State Water Resources Control Board Decides To Stay Provisions Of Central Coast Agricultural Order

Following its August 30, 2012 hearing, the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) decided to stay or extend the compliance deadline for some provisions of the agricultural order and related monitoring and reporting program orders issued by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Board”). The State Board received five petitions for review of the Regional Board’s Order No. R3-2012-0011, Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands (“Agricultural Order”), and Monitoring and Reporting Program Orders Nos. R3-2012-0011-01, R3-2012-0011-02, and R3-2012-0011-03 (“Monitoring and Reporting Orders”). A copy of the Agricultural Order and Monitoring and Reporting Orders are available here. In addition to petitioning for State Board review of those orders, the petitioners also requested that the State Board stay all or certain provisions of the orders, pending State Board review.

The Agricultural Order regulates both landowners and operators of irrigated lands within the Central Coast region where water is applied for producing commercial crops, from which runoff could affect water quality. Under the Agricultural Order, growers are categorized in tiers, based on the risk their farms pose to ground and surface water. The Agricultural Order scales the monitoring and reporting requirements into three tiers and imposes more requirements for the higher tiers. Each tier has a corresponding Monitoring and Reporting Order, which specifies the monitoring and reporting requirements that apply to that tier. All of the tiers are required to develop and implement a Farm Water Quality Management Plan and to collect monthly water samples from receiving waters. Several of the monitoring and reporting requirements have a compliance deadline of October 1, 2012.

After the August 30th hearing regarding the stay requests, the State Board decided to stay or extend the deadline for some provisions of the Agricultural Order and the Monitoring and Reporting Orders, but the State Board did not indicate which provisions would be stayed or extended. The State Board will release a draft order regarding its stay decision on September 10, 2012. The comment deadline on the draft order will be September 14, 2012, by noon. The final State Board stay order is scheduled for adoption at the State Board’s September 19, 2012, public meeting.

For additional information regarding the State Board’s stay decision, please contact Elizabeth Leeper or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult. Additional information is also available through the State Board website.