U.S. Water News Online
SAN FRANCISCO -- Runoff from Central Valley farms will now
be monitored, a step toward stemming pollution entering the state's
waterways, state officials have announced.
The state Water Resources Control Board said it will spend $1
million on a monitoring program to track how much pollution in the
state's rivers, streams and other waterways is caused by agricultural
The results could be used to institute a state runoff program,
such as a permit system, to regulate the water from farms that
eventually finds its way into the state's water systems.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board exempted
farmers from complying with the state's clean water act in 1982, and
recently, environmental groups sued to revoke the exemption.
That suit, brought by WaterKeepers Northern California and the
California Public Interest Research Group, is scheduled to go forward
for the time being, said Jonathan Kaplan, program director for
``We certainly aren't going to drop our lawsuit until we have
something pretty solid,'' he said. ``We have a very positive
indication here, and we now need to sit down with the state and
The exemption is set to expire in December, and it could be
extended or the state board could impose regulations.
How the state would go about that is not clear yet, but one
possibility is issuing permits that outline how the farmers must
control their runoff.
Bob Krauter, a spokesman for the California Farm Bureau
Federation, said many farmers favor a voluntary monitoring system,
and cited others being done around the state.
``We think there are real positive approaches that are being
taken,'' he said. ``We think it makes sense to follow that approach
rather than go through a general permit process that could
potentially lead to additional cost or cause farmers to have to
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