June 16, 2011
Under President Obama's America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, local, state and federal agencies in the six-county Monterey Bay watershed are developing a work plan on improving water quality entering the bay. Designed to encourage a public-private partnership, the work plan begins with a public meeting in Watsonville Friday with representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, NOAA. Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) will also attend.
“The Monterey Bay is a great example of how the ‘great outdoors’ ties Californians together in a common conservation cause, whether we are recreating in the bay, hiking in the forest, or enjoying the agricultural bounty of the watershed,” said Ed Burton, a conservationist for the USDA in California, in a statement.
This Obama Administration initiative will build upon local work by the Agriculture Water Quality Alliance, a collaborative group of agricultural industry group, researchers and environmental organizations. The coalition group has received more than $5 million in federal funding since 2000.
"The water quality work on the Central Coast that sprang from this collaboration has been exemplary," Farr wrote in a letter in February to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. Farr opposes the stricter environmental standards that board has proposed that would regulate agricultural runoff at higher standards than are in effect today. The debate over new standards, known as the ag waiver, has imperiled the collaborative work of this group, Farr says. His letter continues: "So far, this hostile environment has curtailed, if not altogether stalled, the previous progress on agricultural water quality on the Central Coast." Farr continues to say the proposed rule would create "a tragedy" for agriculture if implemented.
The water quality meeting takes place 10am-noon, Friday, June 13 in the Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room, 275 Main St. Free parking will be available.