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Region 3 Water Quality Control Board: Ag Order 4.0 Update - April 2021

May 12, 2021
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After a multi-year effort, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted General Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands (Ag Order 4.0) on April 15, 2021.

The requirements in Ag Order 4.0 are intended to protect human health and protect and restore the beneficial uses of surface and groundwater. The order also requires the protection of riparian and wetland habitat.

Ag Order 4.0 includes incentives for growers and technical service providers to form or join third-party programs to provide compliance assistance to growers. Growers may choose to comply with certain Ag Order 4.0 requirements on an individual basis or via membership in a third-party program.

CSC focused written and oral comments on the proposed draft(s) regarding:

  • Economic Impacts
  • Nitrogen Discharge Limits
  • Impermeable Surfaces/Slopes
  • Riparian Setbacks

CSC written comments can be seen here:
June 25, 2020 Comments: https://link.calstrawberry.com/r15
February 25, 2021 Comments:
https://link.calstrawberry.com/q9s

Some of the critical requirements in the adopted Order affecting strawberry growers include:

Nitrogen application and discharge targets/limits
For strawberries, the application limit is 320 pounds, effective December 31, 2023 and decreasing over time.

The discharge target applies to land on an annual basis, regardless of the number of crops grown each year. The discharge limit is 500 pounds of nitrogen per year beginning December 31, 2023, and decreasing over time.

Impermeable surfaces/stormwater discharge
Mitigate stormwater runoff and include description of control measures in Farm Plan.

Riparian protections
Prohibition on disturbance of riparian areas.

Domestic well monitoring for 1,2,3 trichloropropane
Conduct annual domestic well sampling for 1,2,3-TCP, starting in 2022, and verify if well users have alternative replacement water as appropriate.

Ag Order 4.0 process documents are available on the Central Coast Water Board’s Irrigated Lands Program – Agricultural Order Renewal 4.0 website.

Agricultural Regulatory Program - Agricultural Order Renewal | Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (ca.gov)

The final approved order will be posted to the Central Coast Water Board’s website in the coming weeks.

Contact: Eric Lauritzen
Email: ELauritzen@calstrawberry.org

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