On May 17th, State Water Resources Control Board members traveled down to Fresno for a workshop on the proposed changes to the Waste Discharge Requirements in the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition. The workshop had to change locations due to the amount of grower involvement that was being encouraged by coalitions, commodity groups, and other interested stakeholders. Over 300 interested stakeholders attended the workshop, with many taking the opportunity to comment on the effects the changes to the current order will have throughout the state. State Water Board staff heard from coalition groups, as well as a panel of technical experts who participated in the Expert Panel report development, and finally a panel comprised of experts on the Southern San Joaquin Valley Water Quality Coalition which is leading the way on a Management Practices Effectiveness Program (MPEP).
CCGGA’s President/CEO Roger Isom provided public comment on the effectiveness of grower participation in various other programs, such as the CMP rules for PM10 as well as the Ag ICE program for diesel pump engines. Isom also discussed the importance of grower participation on rule and program development, such as the East San Joaquin petition. The Association’s Director of Technical Services, Chris McGlothlin, also provided comments on a few key issues. McGlothlin touched on the concern over the Regional Board’s capacity to handle the new responsibilities that the proposed changes would incur, the fear of bio-attacks against landowners if private information is made public, as well as asking the Board to trust the efforts being made on addressing water quality issues within the Central Valley. State Water Board Chairwoman, Felicia Marcus, commended attendees and commenters at this workshop for providing a valuable perspective on the effects the ag industry will face if the proposed rules are implemented.