Friday, May 14, 2010
A simmering debate over regulating agricultural runoff that is polluting Salinas Valley waterways boiled over this week, as environmental activists urged the Central Coast Water Quality Control Board to act on a proposed order and farmers complained the restrictions would be too costly and burdensome.
On Wednesday the water board held a workshop about the proposed rules, which would require comprehensive farm plans and establish time lines for growers to reduce runoff and groundwater discharges in compliance with water quality standards.
“It’s about time,” said Monterey Coastkeeper Steve Shimek, in a prepared statement. “Our water is poisonous, and agriculture needs to clean its mess up. The CCRWQCB has drafted a plan that moves us in the right direction and gives the growers decades to come into compliance. It’s more than fair.”
Several local growers and industry groups support an alternative water quality improvement plan pitched by the California Farm Bureau Federation. "There is no need for CCRWQCB to impose arbitrary restrictions on commercial agriculture so long as farmers take necessary steps to demonstrate water quality improvement over a scientifically feasible time line with intermediate milestones," the farm bureau says in its proposal.