According to Zelinski, the most far-reaching proposal would be the requirement that farmers - including wine grape growers — document and justify their use of irrigation water and fertilizer. They could also be fined up to thousands of dollars per day for failure to comply.

Zelinski is a soil-plant-water relations specialist, and is also intimately involved in the water regulatory process.  He currently serves on the County of San Luis Obispo Water Resources Advisory Committee as well as the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance water committee.

The new ag order has been a long-time coming. The original ag order — commonly referred to as the "Ag Waiver" was adopted in 2003. It expired in 2008 and the termination date has been extended numerous times. Staff has prepared two proposals and the industry responded in November 2010 with the Ag Alternative Proposal. In early February 2011, the RWQCB rejected the staff's most recent proposal and directed them to revise and resubmit them by February 28, 2011. Mercer's presentation will summarize the latest proposal and give wine grape growers a chance to know what's going on before the adoption hearing takes place.

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA) has been actively involved in the Ag Regulatory Program process and participated in the development of the Ag Alternative Proposal. In addition to regional issues, there are also a variety of local issues unique to each area that may impact wine grape growers. PRWCA governmental affairs coordinator Lisa Bodrogi will also speak at VINE and discuss how various local issues may impact the viticulture industry.

To register for VINE or for more information, call (805) 434-2772 or visit www.vinesymposium.com.