CV-SALTS: Salt and Nitrate Control Programs Breaking New Ground

Newsletter from CV SALTS

More than mid-way through 2023, both the Salt and Nitrate Control Programs are both entering new territory.

The Salt Control Program is developing an innovative framework and data management tools in its long-term effort to assess and solve one of the Central Valley’s most challenging water quality issues.

The Nitrate Control Program is also working with scientists on a new framework to help them understand nitrate contamination sources and long-term solutions in the area. Its Management Zones are also simultaneously readying their implementation plans for public comment, launching Priority 2 Basin coverage, and continuing to work on outreach, water testing, and delivery for families in need.

More details on CV-SALTS can be found at the CV-SALTS Program website.

Salt Control Program

The Prioritization & Optimization Study (P&O Study) is the focus of the Salt Control Program. The team is proceeding with its Central Valley Scale Modeling & Baseline Characterization work. As part of that process, the following discharger categories were defined:

The team is making significant progress on the development of its new modeling tools as well, and recently released the Prioritization & Optimization Study Year 1 Progress Report. The report includes an overview of accomplishments for the P&O Study, and many specifics, including participation and summarized revenue and expense information. For more details, the Report can be downloaded here.

Looking towards the future, here is the P&O Study Workplan.

Permitted Discharger Background

Permitted salt dischargers in the Central Valley were offered a choice of two pathways to fulfill their Salt Control Program requirements. More information about pathways can be found here.

The program currently has 3,150 active permittees, 87% of whom have selected the Alternative Pathway and are supporting the P&O Study through their fees. In all, 88% of all Central Valley permittees are participating in the program and in compliance.

CV-SALTS sends regular notices by email to participants. For entities participating in the study, the online payment portal opened in May for fee payment and contact information updates. To take care of past-due renewal fees, please email Daniel Cozad at

Additional information on the Salt Control Program can be found here on the CV-SALTS website.

Nitrate Control Program

Work has begun to establish the Management Zones for Priority 2 basins, and permittees in those areas have been informed, via a postcard from the Central Valley Water Board, that in December 2023 they will be receiving Notices to Comply and be required to select their Pathway within 12 months. Priority 2 Management Zone staff have begun participating in the regular Management Zone meetings, enabling them to take advantage of the lessons learned in the Priority 1 areas over the past few years.

Priority 2 basins include Yolo, Merced, Kern County (west side south), Tulare Lake, Kern County (Poso), Delta Mendota, Eastern San Joaquin, and Madera.

The Management Zones have also been focused on completing their Management Zone Implementation Plans (MZIPs), which were submitted to the Central Valley Water Board on September 5, 2023. Now that the plans have been submitted, the Board will publish them, request public comments and schedule public meetings.

The Implementation Plans include all required elements in the Basin Plan Amendment and the continuation of the Early Action Plan elements with expanded outreach and dialog with the communities for long term drinking water solutions. The Management Zone Implementation plans have been posted on the Management Zone Development page of the CV-SALTS website.

The Nitrate Program Management Zones also continue to prioritize engaging communities and spreading the word about their water testing and delivery services. Despite the challenges the Management Zones face in rural areas in getting the message out, their community relationship and trust building efforts are paying off as testing and water delivery numbers continue to climb.

Nitrate Program Progress August 2023

SAFER Program Update

Finally, all of the MZs are now coordinating with the State Water Board SAFER (Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience) Program offer well tests for contaminants other than nitrate. Chowchilla and Valley Water Collaborative Management Zones are doing the full complement of testing, and the rest of the Management Zones will be following suite soon.

Additional information on the Nitrate Control Program is available at

The CV-SALTS Nitrate Challenge Story Map is below and can also be found here.

Enforcement Updates

Nitrate Control Program
Approximately 6% of permittees in Priority 1 Basins are out of compliance.

Salt Control Program
10% (317 of 3,137 facilities) are not in a compliance pathway.

CV-SALTS program staff have conducted outreach to out of compliance permittees, including sending some Notices of Violation. This outreach has resulting in 40 new enrollments from Salt Program permittees. Staff has have met with the Office of Enforcement to discuss next steps for non-filers.

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