In the second quarter of 2021, both the Salt Control Program and the Nitrate Control Program are well underway. Permitted dischargers participating in the Salt Control Program are selecting their pathway and paying any associated fees. The Management Zones in the Nitrate Control Program have begun contacting residents, testing wells, and delivering safe drinking water.
Most Permitted Dischargers Supporting Long-term Salinity Study
In January 2021, the Central Valley Water Board issued Notices to Comply for the Salt Control Program to all permitted dischargers within its jurisdiction. Permitted dischargers must select one of the two pathways by filing a Notice of Intent by July 15, 2021. The two choices are the Alternative Permitting Approach and the Conservative Permitting Approach. Those choosing the Alternative Permitting Approach must also submit payment by the same deadline. These fees support a long-term Prioritization & Optimization Salinity Study. Those choosing the Conservative Permitting Approach must file a Salt Characterization Report along with their Notice of Intent.
For most permittees, the Alternative Permitting Approach is the most cost-effective choice. Coalitions for irrigated lands, dairy, bovine, and poultry operations have selected the Alternative Permitting Approach and paid fees for growers and operators. Many individual permittees have done the same.
Collectively, 1800 individuals and groups have selected the Alternative Permitting Approach and contributed over $820,000 to the Prioritization & Optimization study so far.
The Nitrate Control Program has three priorities: Provide safe drinking water, reduce nitrate impacts to water supplies, and restore groundwater quality where feasible.
In March 2021, the Management Zones submitted their Preliminary Management Zone Proposals, including Early Action Plans for providing access to safe drinking water for those impacted by high nitrate levels in their water supply wells. In May, they began implementing those plans. They are working with water testing and delivery services and have been getting the word out to the community through mailings, online tools, public gatherings, and media reporting.
The program is picking up speed. Management Zones are taking hundreds of calls from interested residents. They have accepted over 170 applications, scheduled over 100 well tests, and have begun delivering bottled water to 19 households that tested positively for high nitrate levels. In addition, six centralized freshwater fill stations have been installed and are dispensing almost 500 gallons per day.