The North Coast RWQCB monitors and regulates water quality for the following counties: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Modoc, Siskiyou, Sonoma, and Trinity counties . Types of irrigated lands in the region include row crops, vineyards, orchards, pasture and marijuana cultivation. Major concerns include polluted runoff (sediments, manure, fertilizers, pesticides), groundwater pollution, erosion, flooding and threats to riparian vegetation and wildlife . The North Coast RWQCB currently uses conditional prohibition to regulate specific types of discharges to waters of the state. Conditional prohibitions are permissible by the region’s Basin Plan and can be implemented through existing TMDL programs in order to regulate and evaluate discharges from irrigated agricultural lands . A new regulatory program called the Water Quality Compliance Program for Discharges from Irrigated Lands (Program) is being developed to supplement existing TMDL program and will likely involve a combination of conditional prohibitions, WDRs and conditional waivers of WDRs. The Program will also include non-regulatory aspects such as education, outreach, coordination and assistance. Overall the program intends to investigate water quality concerns and meet requirements of the California Water Code, the State Nonpoint Source Policy, and the Klamath River Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).
The aspects listed below have been identified as a starting point for the Program while stakeholder involvement will be used to adjust this framework.
- Best management practice implementation: Local expertise will identify discharges and appropriate management practices while landowners will implement chosen practices. Implementation will take place on a schedule with relative flexibility depending on specific circumstances and other factors involved such as local priorities and availability of funds .Potential management practices include management of:
- Polluted Runoff
- Riparian Zone
- Erosion of Fields and Roads
- Livestock Access to Streams
- Manure and Fertilizer Application Rates
- Monitoring: Tracking management measure implementation and effectiveness and/or participation in a group monitoring program where several representative locations are sampled and assessed for trends in water quality. The type of monitoring will be specific to the type of discharge and degree of impairment of the receiving waterbody and should be developed with existing programs.
- Reporting: Reporting to the RWQCB by individuals or by means of a third party will aid in assessing program effectiveness and demonstrating results to the RWQCB. Annual reporting may be required and used for overall program assessment and adaptive management purposes .
- Enforcement: Enforcement will be dependent on the State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Enforcement Policy.
Stakeholders and Organizations Involved
The stakeholder involvement process supports extensive participation to identify concerns, potential opportunities and to inform decisions during the formation of regulations. This Advisory Group has been established to develop the Program and provide input on the Program framework described above and other important Program elements. Stakeholder meetings will involve the full Advisory Group in addition to smaller sub-regional group meetings that will focus on local concerns and provide recommendations to the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group meetings will work to confirm consistency between regions and to provide recommendations to the RWQCB . The Stakeholder Advisory Group consists of the following representatives of stakeholder interests:
- Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Environmental groups
The Advisory Group Charter provides further information about the role of the Advisory Group and regional sub-groups.
The scope of the irrigated lands program has yet to be confirmed but is expected to include at least discharges from vineyards, orchards and irrigated row crops and pastures, while dairies and grazing will be addressed in separate programs . The Stakeholder Advisory Group met in December 2011 for the first time while the four regional sub groups met in February 2012. Advisory Group meetings are scheduled to continue through April 2013 when draft orders and permits should be completed and circulated for public review. The official public comment period is planned for Summer 2013 followed by the RWQCB adoption hearing in the Fall of 2013 .
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