In 2003, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board approved regulations that affected most growers within the Central Valley who have irrigation return water and/or stormwater runoff leaving their croplands. The program is called the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program. The Regional Board decided on three options for growers to avoid pollution of rivers, streams and creeks by pesticides, fertilizers, sediment, and other pollutants. The first thing a grower needs to do is decide which of the three options works best for him or her. The options are: (1) Join a coalition group and apply for a group waiver, or (2) Apply for an individual discharger waiver, or (3) Submit a complete application for a permit.
The coalition group waiver and the individual discharger waiver require owners and/or operators of irrigated lands to manage their operations so they do not cause or contribute to surface water pollution. The waivers contain conditions that require water quality monitoring, implementation of management practices to address water quality problems and reporting to the Regional Board. In order to comply with the conditions of the waivers, coalition groups and individual growers will review the available data for their watershed, develop monitoring plans, and prioritize their efforts to address known problems or pollutants of concern, such as pesticides or nutrients.
Participating in a coalition group is the simplest and most economical way to comply with the requirements. A coalition group is any group receiving Regional Board approval to operate under the terms and conditions of the coalition group conditional waiver. Coalition groups organize growers to share best management practices, conduct monitoring of rivers and creeks, apply for grants, and work cooperatively toward improving water quality. In addition to growers, coalition groups may include representatives from the farm bureaus, county agricultural commissioners, RCDs, the NRCS, farm advisors, and water agencies. The Butte-Yuba-Sutter Water Quality Coalition is one of the ten subwatersheds that comprise the Sacramento Valley Water Quality Coalition. More information about this main watershed coalition is available at www.svwqc.org.
As of December 2006, in order to join any coalition group, a grower must apply to the Regional Board for approval by filing a completed form ILRP 5.0 and paying a $50 application fee. Information on the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program from the Regional Board is available at www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/water_issues/irrigated_lands/
After the grower has received board approval, he or she may then join the Butte-Yuba-Sutter Water Quality Coalition by submitting the required information, and paying all current dues as well as any past dues if appropriate. The BYS is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of three members from each county. November 2009 to November 2010, the trustees representing Butte county are David Sieperda, and Mike Bennett, there is one vacancy on the board from Butte county. The trustees representing Yuba county are Tom Schultz, Kulwant Johl, and Sarb Johl, and representing Sutter are Steven Danna, Lynn Philips, and Mat Conant. The Office of Ag Commissioner from the three counties are ex officio members of the Board of Trustees. The Sutter County Recourse Conservation District acts as the subwatershed coordinator and can be reached at (530) 674-1461. Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau provides clerical services for the Butte-Yuba-Sutter Water Quality Coalition. Please feel free to call our office at (530) 673-6550
or email us at BYSWQC@sbcglobal.net
if you have any questions.