The State Water Resources Control Board voted in September to increase fees by $27.6 million for all water quality permit holders in California. The fee increases are intended to fill gaps in the state budget by shifting the cost for regulatory programs, such as the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP), from taxpayers to permit fee payers.

An estimated $1.8 million in higher fees will be collected from farmers through coalitions by the State Water Board. The money goes to pay board administrative costs for Irrigated Lands Regulatory Programs in the Central Valley, Central Coast and other regions. How higher fees translate into increased dues for farmers and ranchers will vary by watershed coalition.

Parry Klassen, of the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition (ESJWQC), said per-acre fees are increasing from 12 cents to 56 cents in the Central Valley. Although he doesn’t expect ESJWQC to raise its dues in 2012, other coalitions may need to pass on the increases to members. More Central Valley almond growers are expected to become paying members of a watershed coalition as the existing ILRP expands to cover groundwater over the next 18 months. Growers will again have the option of having an individual permit or joining a coalition. More information is available on the CURES website,