A 2010 state report on the toxicity of California waterways says that Central Coast streams have the highest percentage of toxic sites in the state. Of those, 22 percent are classified as “highly toxic.”

Joe Karkoski, the program manager of the irrigated lands regulatory program at the Central Valley Water Board, painted a slightly more pragmatic approach when he suggested that state regulators are “very aware of our regulations and the potential cost to agriculture.”

Still, growers are rightly worried as regulators continue to press for stricter controls and enforcement.

Kay Mercer is president of KMI, a consulting firm that provides services to assist and advise growers of water management improvements. She works with growers along California’s Central Coast region.

According to Mercer, she is booked solid with work related to helping growers comply with an onslaught of regulations that seek to reverse decades of damage.

“Growers don’t know what to invest in to meet the various requirements,” Mercer said during a panel discussion on the matter.