A series of workshops will be held throughout California’s Central Valley later this month and in early April to discuss the future of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is conducting the workshops to gather comments on the program elements and environmental information that should be considered in the development of a long-term program.

The meetings will be held in Sacramento on March 26; Modesto on April 1; Tulare on April 2, and Durham on April 8.

“The irrigated land program will very likely be changed to include groundwater and that is a very significant change which growers should be aware of,” said Gabriele Ludwig, the Almond Board of California’s senior manager for technical and regulatory affairs.

These workshops will discuss how groundwater monitoring might be implemented and it is important for growers to attend and voice their opinions on how such a monitoring program should be developed. Thus, this program will affect every almond grower in the Central Valley, Ludwig said.

Other changes for discussion include establishing different requirements for different types of agricultural operations and/or geographic areas. A few examples of potential subcategories are: small operations, organic farms, irrigated and/or non-irrigated pastureland, nurseries, and wetlands.

Also, consideration of various regulatory approaches, such as use of management practice requirements, technology performance standards, narrative or numeric water quality- based limits, or a combination of these, will be discussed.

The Central Valley’s irrigated lands program was initiated in 2003 with the adoption of the Conditional Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands within the Central Valley Region (Conditional Waiver).

A revised Conditional Waiver was adopted in July 2006. The 2006 Conditional Waiver and its associated requirements are considered part of an interim program for regulation of discharges from irrigated agricultural lands, which allows participating growers to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

The meeting schedule is:

March 26 - Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley Region, 11020 Sun Center Drive, Suite 200, Rancho Cordova, Calif., 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.;

April 1 - Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, Harvest Hall, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, Calif., 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.;

April 2 - International Agri-Center, Heritage Complex, 4500 South Laspina Street, Tulare, 6 p. m. to 8 p.m.; and

April 8 - Durham Memorial Hall, 9319 Midway, Durham, Calif., 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Workshop materials will be available on the Web site two weeks prior to the meeting date at www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/public_notices/#IrrLands.

Copies of these documents can also be obtained by contacting or visiting the Regional Water Board’s office at: 11020 Sun Center Drive, #200, Rancho Cordova, CA, 95670-6114, weekdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information, contact Susan Fregien at (916) 464-4813 or sfregien@waterboards.ca.gov.