UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance
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UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

Spring 2011: Time to get serious about water in San Diego County

Regional Report San Diego and Riverside Counties by James A. Bethke and Valerie J. Mellano

San Diego County has been a little behind the curve in fulfilling the requirements of clean water regulations that other regions have already implemented. Regulations were recently adopted by the Regional Water Quality Control Board requiring all irrigated agricultural and nursery operations in the San Diego region to sample and test wet and dry weather runoff for pollutants and report the findings. In addition to the water quality testing and reporting, the new rules require two annual continuing education hours, regular contact with the UC Cooperative Extension or other agencies that can assist in helping you with Best Management Practices (BMPs), and record keeping.

As with other regions, the regulations allow for two options for testing and reporting. Growers can conduct  these activities as a group or individually. Acting as an  individual is very expensive and requires submission of a plan, independent water quality testing, and filing of the results directly with the Regional Board.

There are two monitoring groups in San Diego County. The San Diego County Farm Bureau has provided its members with a collective testing and reporting option through the San Diego Region Irrigated Lands Group. In addition, Rainbow Municipal Water District has created a monitoring group that will serve only the growers who are in its service area.  A small group has also formed for those who grow in a limited area of Riverside County, an area that is not served by the San Diego County Farm Bureau or the Rainbow Municipal Water District. Although the original deadline to register with the Regional Board was  December 31, 2010, the Board has now extended the deadline a few months.  San Diego County growers who need to join a group, should contact the Farm Bureau or, if you are in their service area, the Rainbow Municipal Water District.

UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego has initiated a valuable website that contains a blog (see excerpts from "Water Bloggers" at right) and a link to a calendar of water-related programs and events that can assist growers with BMPs or help fulfill the Water Board educational requirements. One important program is the “Water Wise Farming” demonstration that runs from March 1, 2011 to May 8, 2011 (9:00 AM to 6:00 PM). This water quality awareness program is sponsored by the UC Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with The Flower Fields® at Carlsbad Ranch and Mellano and Company Growers. You are invited to visit this onsite educational model that demonstrates more than 20 management practices to help farmers protect water resources. In addition, UC Cooperative Extension is holding a number of “Water Schools” that will allow you to complete your two-hour annual educational requirement. Furthermore, the website includes “Online Classes: Water Quality Issues for Agriculture and Landscape.” These online classes also qualify for continuing education hours necessary for the Water Board requirements.

There are also a variety of pdf downloads that are available on the UC Cooperative Extension website such as the Quick Tips water quality newsletter issue on Runoff Management. “Grower Resources” downloads include Employee Training modules in English and Spanish and Self-Assessment Questionnaires for greenhouses and nurseries, tree crops and animal agriculture to help you assess the runoff and containment potentials of your facilities.  Other “Grower Resources” include (1) Ag Water Quality Record Keeping, (2) Management Options for Nonpoint Source Pollution: Greenhouse and Container Crop Industries, (3) Stormwater Compliance Checklist for Commercial Facilities, and (4) Best Management Practices, which includes BMPs related to nurseries, orchards and field operations, and residents and animal owners, as well as common pollution prevention management options.

In addition, there are “Slide Presentations” on the website which include PowerPoint presentations from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health about subjects such as: (1) Used Oil Regulations, (2) Land Use Program Septic System, (3) Irrigation Pumping Plants, (4) Mitigation of Pollution in Nursery Runoff, and (5) Pesticides in Nursery Runoff: Sources and Transport Processes.

Please visit: http://ucanr.org/sites/agwaterquality/.

Valerie Mellano's contact information:

Valerie J. Mellano, Ph.D., Environmental Issues Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension San Diego
5555 Overland Ave., Suite 4101, Bldg 4
San Diego, CA 92123-1219
(858) 694-2849 fax
(858) 571-4204, 760-752-4717 phone
vjmellano@ucdavis.edu; http://cesandiego.ucdavis.edu/



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