Irrigated Lands Regulatory Issues Take Center Stage in Fresno

ACWA Regions 6 and 7 came together last week at the Fresno County Farm Bureau to get the facts about new changes being made to the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.

Nearly 50 people attended the membership forum, representing districts and growers throughout California’s San Joaquin and Central Valleys. The Fresno County Farm Bureau is a wonderful venue for such events, and I would personally like to thank the board and Executive Director Ryan Jacobsen for their gracious consent for ACWA to use the facilities for this event. Thank you also to Katie Dahl, and the other ACWA staff that helped make the event a success.

ACWA Vice President John Coleman welcomed everyone to the Farm Bureau, and gave a quick summary of some of the administrative changes being made in the Association as of late. Region 6 and 7 boards appreciate John making time in his busy schedule to be a part of our event.

The morning panel took a regulatory perspective on the irrigated lands issues. Pamela Creedon, executive officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, began with an overview of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program. She gave a brief history of the statute, the progression of the regulation, and the work that is being done now by the CVRWQCB to bring the region into compliance with the new regulations, now including groundwater.

Bringing the discussion to a more regional focus, representatives from the Southern San Joaquin Valley Water Quality Coalition and East San Joaquin Water Coalition talked about the impacts of the ILRP in their areas.

The day concluded with an afternoon panel that spoke on ground-level implementation of the ILRP. Westlands Water District and Westside San Joaquin River Watershed Coalition gave us the ins and outs of the program, focusing largely on the responsibility now on growers and the cost of implementing the program. The panel concluded with the legal perspective and Kern County’s perspective on the ILRP.

Discussions followed both of the panels with questions asked by the audience. I have to thank Pamela Creedon for speaking on the RWQCB’s behalf at the program and fielding a large portion of the questions that came from the growers and districts in attendance. By the end of the day, the audience, and certainly myself, had all we could absorb. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's attached to the train that's coming...

It was driven home again to all growers in the field that we are blessed with staff within our public agencies who manage water and water related issues. These are dedicated hard-working folks vital to our industry's compliance to state statute along with managing operational issues and wearing whatever hat we ask of them. The panelists were an excellent example of that, with all of those participating wearing many hats in the water world of California.

As the ACWA Region 6 chair, I enjoyed watching Regions 6 and 7 come together to hear about important issues in regards to the changes that are being made Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program. All of the presentations from this forum are available online here. This forum was a great success, only to be repeated again in Region 7 when Kern County Water Agency will host us on Sept. 14 for our second member forum of the year. Please join us to discuss groundwater management and Bay Delta Conservation Plan updates.

You can learn more about the forum we’re planning as details develop at www.acwa.com.