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Runoff Monitoring

Farm Bureau to Form Runoff Monitoring Group

As the next step in state and federal stormwater runoff regulations takes shape and causes concern among members of the local agriculture community,

San Diego Region Irrigated Lands Group (SDRILG) Questions & Answers
President's Message to Farm Bureau Members
President's Message to Non Farm Bureau Members
Application for SDRILG
Application for Farm Bureau Membership
Waiver no. 4
Contact SDRILG

the San Diego County Farm Bureau board of directors has approved the creation of a runoff monitoring group for Farm Bureau members located in the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s San Diego region.

Adding to the long-held mandate for Best Management Practices which require no pollutants be allowed to leave the farm in irrigation or storm-water discharges, the new standard will redefine the use of runoff waivers and require growers to select one of two options to fulfill runoff monitoring requirements: 1) Report directly to the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), or 2) join a local monitoring group, such as the one SDCFB is in the early stages of forming.

Growers opting to work one-on-one with the RWQCB will be required to pay the hefty sum of $18,000 for the program. However, by joining a monitoring group, that $18,000 fee would be spread among the participants in the monitoring group. Additional funding to sustain monitoring group operations and testing of runoff water is typically through assessments and acreage fees based on the intensity of the type of agriculture.

Existing monitoring groups in the state have been structured in several different ways. Some were established as new or existing 501(c)(3) organizations; others are coalitions of commodity groups; while others use the local water district or county Farm Bureau as the program administrator. SDCFB has not yet determined if its monitoring group will be a direct Farm Bureau function or a 501(c)(3) controlled by Farm Bureau.

Monitoring groups are tasked with establishing and staffing the program and ongoing operations, registering participants, and hiring a consulting engineering firm to conduct the testing. The testing from the engineering consultant involves select sampling sites downstream from farms in watersheds; taking water samples and testing for compliance; and reporting back to the monitoring group which, in turn, reports the data to the RWQCB. If pollution is discovered, efforts will have to be made to rectify the situation.  

While the SDCFB monitoring group is still in the early stages of formation, it has established a fee structure for early signups so that it can begin generating revenue to fund the program. Because it will be promoted as a member benefit, Farm Bureau membership is mandatory to participate in the monitoring program. An entrance fee of $1,000 per member has been set; however, members who sign up by Dec. 1, 2008 will pay only $500, and members who sign up between Dec. 2, 2008 through June 30, 2009 will pay $750. After July 1, 2009, all members joining the monitoring group will pay the full $1,000 fee.

Every grower must form or join a monitoring group to monitor water quality compliance and report to the RWQCB by Dec. 31, 2010. That date is the same deadline for growers who choose to go it alone and register directly with the RWQCB. By Jan. 1, 2011, monitoring groups and individuals must file a Notice of Intent with the RWQCB.
Full details about the program, including additional funding sources beyond the entrance fee, will be explained in a complete information letter expected to be mailed to Farm Bureau members within the next 60 days.

The march toward monitoring

1969 – Fire on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio and an oil platform blowout in the Santa Barbara Channel garner public attention and give birth to the clean water movement.

1969 – California legislature adopts the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. The legislation creates nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards to oversee the state’s regulatory effort.

1972 – Congress adopts and President Nixon signs the Clean Water Act. CWA introduced a permit system for regulating easily identified “point” sources of pollution including industrial facilities, government installations, and confined animal feeding operations.

1983 – Agriculture in California given a “waiver” from the requirement to report waste discharges because runoff is considered “non-point” or dispersed.

1987 – Clean Water Act amended to include non-point sources in regulations.

1988 – California adopts its own non-point program and directs Regional Boards to act.

1999 – California legislature declares all waivers will expire in 2003 and must be renewed with strict conditions. 

2002 – Waiver readopted by San Diego Regional Board and requires all farmers to apply best management practices and subjects nurseries to inspection to ensure compliance with runoff regulations.

2007 – Waiver readopted with added provision that farmers must individually or in a monitoring group test runoff and report results to the Regional Board to prove compliance.

2010 – Farmers must be a member of a monitoring group or establish their own direct relationship with the Regional Board for runoff testing.