The State Water Resources Control Board is looking to increase the per acre charged to growers through their Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) this year, adding to the list of State Agencies increasing the cost of compliance to do business in the state. Earlier this month, the SWB proposed the increases, and announced that they will be taking the recommended fee increases before the Board during the September Board Meeting. The ILRP program is locked in to increase by 8.9%, going from .87 cents/acre, up to .95 cents/acre. The ILRP program has still yet to reach full enrollment of all irrigated acres within the state, and the development of these newer programs will be supplemented by fees collected elsewhere in the state. There are still two regions that have yet to adopt the order, or are in the process of developing coalitions to represent growers for that specific area. Usually, SWB staff include up to 6% of their collected revenue as part of their “Reserve Funding” from year to year. This fund helps offset some of the proposed fee increases, however, staff has put in place a plan to reduce the amount collected year to year to help offset future fee increases. The fund will decrease to 4% starting this upcoming season.
State Water Board staff has noted that numerous permit programs that operate under their guidance are severely underfunded, and that fee increases are necessary to maintain proper operation of these programs. CCGGA has attended several of these fee workshops and tried to find a working solution outside of charging stakeholders (grower) more for the same amount of work year after year. Unfortunately, SWB staff has also proposed a 20% increase in fees to be broken up over the next 3 years to help bring revenue closer to actual expenditures for these programs. The Association will continue to fight against these unwarranted fee increases. Stay tuned.