“Should farmers in the Central Valley, California’s richest agricultural region, be required to monitor and clean up groundwater pollution from their operations? The issue will be taken up by the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board at a three-day meeting in Rancho Cordova beginning June 8.
“Under the proposed regulations, farmland would be classified based on the contamination risk. Farms considered most likely to pollute groundwater would have to take certain steps to reduce fertilizer and other agricultural runoff. If passed, the new rules would affect 35,000 growers who work about 7 million acres of irrigated land.
“Environmentalists faced off against farm groups in an all-day public hearing Thursday in Rancho Cordova. Farmers said that the regulations would be expensive and burdensome. Environmental and community groups said that current rules don’t protect drinking water from pesticides, fertilizers and other agricultural runoff.
“Runoff from irrigated agriculture is the largest source of pollution to Central Valley waterways and the Delta,” said the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and more than 70 other state and local groups in a joint statement. “This pollution is one of the principal causes of the collapse of Central Valley fisheries.
“Inexplicably, irrigated agriculture remains exempt from requirements to monitor discharges and identify measure to reduce pollution,” the groups said, adding that such rules have “long been applicable to every other segment of society, from municipalities to industry to mom and pop businesses.”
Read more: LAtimes