Faced with a draft proposal to monitor and improve water quality on the California Central Coast that appears unworkable, farmers are developing a proposal of their own that they say is more likely to succeed. An agricultural working group will file those alternative recommendations with the Central Coast Reg-ional Water Quality Board.
The agricultural working group says its plan would be more effective and more practical than the new draft proposal from the regional board staff. The working group says the board staff draft would do little to enhance water quality while imposing “extensive and massive” record keeping on the estimated 3,000 farms in the region.
“I’ve looked at the draft proposal, and it goes further than I expected,” says Santa Barbara County vineyard manager Kevin Merrill. “For example, requirements for growers in impaired areas add layers of unnecessary documentation of practices that don’t do anything to improve water quality.”
Merrill says the proposed water quality program would require testing for substances that go beyond those contributed by farming, for example heavy metals. Testing for these kinds of substances more appropriately falls to government agencies, he says.
Kari Fisher, a California Farm Bureau Federation associate counsel, says Farm Bureau will continue to work with the board to ensure increased understanding of best management practices for the region’s highly diverse crops.
Calif. Farm Bureau contributed information for this article.
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