The State Water Board (SWB) met in the beginning of February to discuss and vote on the East San Joaquin Proposed Order. Board listened to numerous comments, and several panels that looked at numerous details that are included in the plan. Staff was also able to answer questions posed by attendees and Board Members.
The East San Joaquin Staff-Proposed Order – Draft #2 was released late in January, with a 3rd draft being released in the beginning of February. Changes to the East San Joaquin Order primarily focused on growers, and included certification requirements for growers operating in High Vulnerability threat to groundwater ratings. Another inclusion in the plan adds another reporting requirement in the new Management Practices Implementation Report (MPIR). This plan will be submitted along with the altered Irrigation & Nitrogen Management Plan (INMP). The most significant change regarding the order will be the increased cost that growers will be required to pay in order to remain in compliance. The Association testified in opposition, with Director of Technical Services, Chris McGlothlin, commenting on the lack of thorough economic analysis included in the Staff Order. Costs are only estimated for implementation in the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition, however, cost estimates for implementation in other regions has not been considered at this point.
Board Members recommended that areas to streamline reporting requirements, and find ways to cut cost associated with the new requirements of this Order. However, Board Members also recommended that Regional Boards identify “outlier” operations that were demonstrating over-application of nitrogen in their fields. The Board moved forward with the vote and approved the changes. Edits have been released for review. Stay Tuned.