Last month, the State Water Board released a second draft of their Proposed East San Joaquin Order. This Order aims to strengthen groundwater quality protection by leveraging stronger monitoring and field level requirements on growers and coalitions, and the Order is precedential in that it can be applicable to all Coalitions throughout the State. The recently released draft has several key changes to various requirements set forth in the order, primarily the inclusion of more stringent surface water monitoring throughout the state. This newly added requirement will undoubtedly result in higher fees to stakeholders due to the newly incurred cost at the Coalition level for this kind of monitoring. Other changes include the elimination of township level data aggregation, this provision is being replaced by individual operation data being submitted to the Regional Board with only the name of the operation being withheld by the Coalitions. Another major change is that growers in Low Vulnerability areas must have their Nitrogen & Irrigation Management Plans signed off on by a CCA or other certified source. This was not a requirement in the previous draft, although the State Water Board was trying to designate the entire State as being in High Vulnerability to groundwater quality.
The State Water Board will be hosting 2 workshops on this specific topic within the month of November, as well as holding a specific workshop in front of the entire Board during the month of December. A workshop will be held in Fresno on November 27th, and an additional workshop will be held in Redding on November 30th. We will be developing talking points to distribute amongst the membership, and we encourage you to participate in the Board Hearing as well as the workshop that is closest to you. We would also encourage you to submit written comments to the Board, as these will be reviewed and considered for the final draft to be released this next year. For more information on the proposed workshops, please visit the link below.