August 13, 2015

Court Sends Central Coast Conditional Waiver Program Back to Drawing Board

On Tuesday, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a ruling in the lawsuit brought by Monterey Coastkeeper, et al. against the State Water Resources Control Board for modifications it made to the Regional Board’s Central Coast Agricultural Order governing discharges from irrigated agricultural lands in the Central Coast region. Under the Conditional Waiver program, farmers are required to implement extensive management practices to meet water quality standards, and are required to monitor both surface and groundwater to determine compliance with the Ag Order’s provisions.

The Court agreed with the Petitioners that the Modified Waiver does not comply with the Nonpoint Source Pollution Policy (NPS), does not contain adequate monitoring provisions to verify that management practices are effectively controlling pollution, and is not in the public’s interest because there is no evidence it will lead to quantifiable improvements in water quality. Therefore, the court directed the State Water Board to go back to the drawing board.

We are still reviewing the court’s 45-page ruling and its potential impact on the Central Coast’s agricultural program. However, we respectfully disagree with the court’s findings in that we believe the Conditional Waiver as modified by the State Board does comply with state law, including the Nonpoint Source Pollution Policy.

Western Growers, together with California Farm Bureau Federation, Grower Shipper Association of Central California, and Grower Shipper Association of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties intervened in the lawsuit. We are disappointed with the court’s ruling and will be conducting a thorough review to determine our next course of action.

For more information, contact Gail Delihant at (916) 446-1435.