After years of fighting to get farmers to monitor and report what substances they’re discharging into the groundwater and ocean — a battle that resulted in approval of a new plan earlier this year — a coalition of clean water advocates is once again turning to the courts to get the state to implement the rules.
Last Friday, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, the Otter Project, San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper, and California Sportfishing Protection Alliance sued the State Water Resources Control Board for agreeing to delay the requirement by the Central Coast regional board that farms of a certain type and size verify the pesticides, nitrates, and other potentially toxic agricultural substances they use.
“These are basic things that should be happening anyway,” said Channelkeeper’s Ben Pitterle, who explained that unchecked ag discharges have led to unsafe drinking water in some regions and poor ocean water quality that affects species like the otter. “We think people have the right to know who’s discharging what into the state waters.”
The state board issued a stay on the verification rule as it works through appeals that have been filed by farming interests, which fear the rules would be too costly and onerous.