Pilot programs in two regions of the San Joaquin Valley will serve as templates for other areas developing plans to prevent fertilizer and irrigation runoff from entering groundwater supplies. The programs will also create plans to provide clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities.
The Turlock and Kings River groundwater subbasins are among six in the Central Valley designated as high priority due to nitrate levels that exceed 10 milligrams per liter. Affected stakeholders in the two subbasins are using grant funds from the State Water Resources Control Board for pilot programs to develop plans for compliance.
Wayne Zipser, a director of the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition, which works with irrigators in Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties, described the Turlock Subbasin Management Zone Pilot Program as “a proactive approach before this regulation even happens.”