1: Agricultural Industry Networks
The strategies in this section establish a process for developing industry-led networks of landowners and operators to address agricultural nonpoint pollution issues. Regional, county and watershed-level agricultural working groups will be established in the Sanctuary's watersheds, under the leadership of existing large agricultural organizations such as Farm Bureaus and related industry groups. These industry networks will take the lead in organizing and working with their own members to establish joint projects for nonpoint source management in priority watershed areas. Industry leadership will be a critical component in identifying priority target regions for joint projects, conducting outreach on nonpoint issues, assisting members in developing and carrying out voluntary site-specific management plans, obtaining outside technical assistance as needed, and tracking implementation success over time. It will also ensure the degree of willing cooperation necessary to project success and to the transference of knowledge among landowners.
Strategy 1-1: Establish regional industry networks as framework for addressing nonpoint source management.
Establish industry-led networks of landowner/operators, utilizing existing agricultural organizations such as Farm Bureaus and Cattlemen's Associations to provide leadership in addressing nonpoint source management. Establish regional organization of Farm Bureaus ("Central Coast Farm Bureau Coalition") for all the watersheds draining to the Sanctuary to coordinate activities and share information, address nonpoint source watershed issues which cross county boundaries, and to serve as a central point of contact with the Sanctuary's Water Quality Protection Program (WQPP), the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), and technical assistance agencies. Establish individual county Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees to oversee development and implementation of Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans for each county. Implementation of this strategy would be part of an initial regional pilot project for the California Farm Bureau Federation's recently developed Nonpoint Source Initiative.
Existing agricultural organizations such as Farm Bureaus with large memberships should be effective networks for conducting outreach on nonpoint source issues, facilitating and tracking implementation of management measures. Many growers and ranchers are most comfortable exchanging information with groups of peers, assisted by technical representatives where appropriate. Adoption of more of a leadership role by Farm Bureaus in addressing nonpoint sources via establishment of such networks could greatly leverage the work of the limited number of professional outreach agents in the region, and should increase interest in participation among their many members.
Step 1: Establish Central Coast Farm Bureau Coalition (hereafter, "Coalition") to oversee initiation and development of the industry network to address agricultural nonpoint sources.
- Invite representatives of six county Farm Bureaus in the watersheds that drain to the Sanctuary (San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Benito and San Luis Obispo), to formalize Coalition and reach consensus on overall goals (formal signed agreement completed November 1998).
- Invite advisory members of other agricultural organizations as appropriate, such as County Cattlemen's, Grape Growers, and Western Growers Associations, representatives of support industries and other business interests which support the goals of the Agricultural Water Quality Program.
- Serve as a central point of contact between the Monterey Bay Sanctuary's WQPP, regulatory agencies such as the RWQCB, technical assistance agencies/entities, and all county Farm Bureaus.
Step 2: Establish County Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees to oversee development and implementation of Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans (industry-led implementation strategies) for each county.
- Select representatives from county Farm Bureau membership by Board of Directors of each county Farm Bureau, and invite advisory members such as representatives of allied industries and representatives of regulatory and technical assistance agencies as deemed appropriate by the county Farm Bureau Board of Directors.
- Each County Farm Bureau Coordinating Committee will serve as point of contact between the Coalition, the Sanctuary's WQPP, regulatory agencies, technical assistance agencies/entities on the one hand and landowner/operator local Watershed Working Groups (see Strategy 1-3) and large individual operators who are not participants in the Working Groups on the other hand.
- The Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees will assist in administrative matters such as funding, managing county program trust account, and hiring a watershed coordinator if and when necessary.
- The Coalition will assist the individual county Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees in the development of coordinated Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans for each county, under the umbrella structure of the WQPP, and in cooperation with the RWQCBs. (See Strategy 1-3.)
- The Coalition will provide ongoing advice and assistance to separate county Farm Bureau Agricultural Water Quality Programs, including developing and distributing informational materials, developing funding sources, facilitating and coordinating technical assistance, and assisting in resolving conflicts.
Note: The implementation of the Action Plans is described in Strategy 1-3.
County Farm Bureaus, California Farm Bureau Federation, individual landowner/operators, related agricultural associations, RWQCBs, Sanctuary WQPP.
Interim success will be measured by the establishment of the Central Coast Farm Bureau Coalition (completed November 1998), the degree of active participation by county Farm Bureaus and related agricultural groups, establishment and active participation of the individual county Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees, development of funding/staffing for administrative functions and outreach, and establishment of ongoing communications with the Regional Boards, WQPP, and technical assistance agencies. Long-term success will be measured by the degree to which industry adopts an ongoing leadership role in communicating with and organizing its members to address nonpoint pollution.
Gather and build on information from existing watershed studies and interviews of local experts to identify specific geographical problem areas within watersheds. This information would be used to help focus implementation of improved management practices in those areas, and target a series of joint projects to be led by the Farm Bureaus and related industry groups. A logical source of priority watersheds and segments is established by the state's Clean Water Act section 303(d) list of impaired waters requiring establishment of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of specified pollutants. Within these priority stream segments and water bodies, choice of appropriate sites should be made by the Central Coast Farm Bureau Coalition and the County Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees, after joint consultation with the RWQCB, the WQPP, monitoring experts, county planners, etc., with an initial focus on regions where there are interested groups of landowners.
Identification of key geographic areas within watersheds will allow more effective focusing of limited staff and funding efforts to facilitate implementation of agricultural management practices. It would also lay the groundwork for a phased approach that would allow tailoring of management practices or development of new practices that may be broadly applicable to conditions and landowner needs in that watershed. Building upon the existing TMDL priorities is necessary to conserve limited water quality planning and implementation funding, and to ensure that participants will not be subjected to conflicting regulatory demands.
Step 1: Review the state 303(d) list to identify priority stream segments and water bodies, and pollutants requiring control (see Appendix B).
Step 2: Review existing studies on erosion, pesticide, nutrient and microbiological contamination in Sanctuary watersheds (see initial references in previous chapter) to identify probable source areas from agricultural activities.
Step 3: Conduct joint consultations with agricultural industry representatives, technical experts and resource planners to determine potential pilot project locations.
- Criteria for site selection should include areas small enough in number of parcels and concentrated enough in geographic range to work effectively as a group, and locations where agricultural nonpoint sources have been clearly identified and may be resolved by joint projects.
- The subwatershed or segment should also have hydrological patterns which would allow adequate monitoring to demonstrate the success of the project.
- Initial projects should focus on areas where there are willing groups of landowners.
- Note: Initial pilot projects are proposed for the lower Pajaro Valley, the east side of the Salinas Valley, and the Pescadero watershed.
Step 4: When available, use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to identify areas of cultivation (or problematic crop types) on steep slopes with erodible soils. GIS maps showing land uses with parcel sizes could also be used to assist with site selection, to assist in determining the most appropriate scale and locations for the projects.
Step 5: Use information obtained to catalog and prioritize areas for landowner assistance and implementation of conservation management practices, as part of the individual county Farm Bureau Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans (developed in Strategy 1-3).
County Farm Bureaus, Cattlemen's Associations, Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association of Central California, other agricultural industry representatives, RWQCB, NRCS, WQPP, counties, UCCE, AMBAG.
Success will be measured by the identification of priority sites for pilot projects (Phase I sites in the Salinas, Pajaro and Pescadero watersheds already identified), and a sequence of additional subwatershed sites in these and other watersheds draining to the Sanctuary which will ultimately cover all the agricultural regions with impaired water bodies.
Strategy 1-3: Implement nonpoint source management practices using industry-led local Watershed Working Groups.
Develop and carry out individual county Farm Bureau-led Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans to implement nonpoint source management practices on private property. These Plans would be based on the sequence of problem areas prioritized in Strategy 1-2. Solicit groups of landowners willing to establish joint projects in various subwatersheds or segments. Groups of landowners would identify sources of pollution, develop individual, confidential water quality management plans, implement management practices to address pollutants of concern, monitor the effectiveness of selected management practices, and solicit technical assistance as needed.
Farm Bureaus would provide periodic reports to the RWQCBs, according to a schedule established with the RWQCBs, which would summarize the watershed group's progress in implementing effective practices and improving water quality. The self-monitoring methods and programs utilized by the growers must adhere to quality assurance/quality control standards established by the RWQCBs. Implementation of this strategy would be part of an initial regional pilot project for the California Farm Bureau Federation's recently developed Nonpoint Source Initiative.
On-the-ground implementation of agricultural management practices is a critical component in the regional effort to address nonpoint source pollution in Sanctuary watersheds. Focusing support on projects identified and organized by industry representatives will ensure the degree of willing cooperation necessary both to project success, and to the transference of knowledge gained in the pilot project to other landowners. Coordination of efforts with the RWQCB, the WQPP committee, and technical assistance agents will help ensure evaluation of progress, while the Farm Bureau's compilation of data at a subwatershed level will ensure the confidentiality of private property owners.
Step 1: Develop individual county Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans.
- Begin pilot projects with priority sites identified in Strategy 1-2.
- Contact landowners (both Farm Bureau members and non-members, including rural ranchettes) in focus areas, to assess feasibility of developing locally-led Agricultural Water Quality Protection Programs and organizing local agricultural landowner/manager Watershed Working Groups.
- Develop county-wide Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans (implementation strategies) prioritizing areas according to importance of water quality issues (based on information learned in Strategy 1-2) and feasibility of organization.
Step 2: Establish local agricultural landowner/manager Watershed Working Groups.
- Each county Farm Bureau Coordinating Committee will assist individual agricultural landowners/managers in establishing Watershed Working Groups, which will be responsible for carrying out the local portions of the county-wide Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans.
- Conduct educational outreach through Farm Centers, Farm Bureau district directors, related agricultural organizations, and individual landowner contacts.
Step 3: Develop local agricultural watershed protection plans.
- Each county Farm Bureau Coordinating Committee will assist the Watershed Working Group in developing voluntary watershed protection plans, and individual, confidential farm or ranch water quality plans where appropriate. These watershed and individual farm/ranch plans are the local, on-the-ground implementation of the county-wide Agricultural Water Quality Action Plans. The plans will include, at a minimum, identification of pollution sources, action (implementation plans), implementation tracking and self-monitoring, and a program for maintaining confidential records regarding the management practices implemented as well as self-monitoring data.
- The county Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees will facilitate availability of technical expertise for the Watershed Working Groups to assist with tailoring management practices to site-specific needs, and will serve as point of contact with RWQCBs.
- The county Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees will assist in making technical outreach sources available to individual agricultural landowners/managers to assess the water quality impacts of their activities and develop voluntary, confidential, individual farm and ranch water quality plans, where appropriate. Examples include hosting University of California Cooperative Extension's Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan short courses, encouraging member participation through individual contacts, and Farm Bureau communication systems.
- Watershed Working Groups will assist participants in developing individual, confidential water quality management plans, including self-monitoring and record keeping as necessary to provide documentation of actions and water quality effects on a subwatershed level.
Step 4: Provide periodic reports to the RWQCBs.
- County Farm Bureau Coordinating Committees will compile records from implementation tracking and self-monitoring activities of the individual watershed working groups, while providing protection for the privacy of participating farmers and ranchers. They will provide written implementation and monitoring reports to the RWQCBs pursuant to format and schedule developed with the RWQCBs. These reports will compile and present the data on a subwatershed level only, on a geographic scale agreed upon with the RWQCB and in cooperation with the Sanctuary's WQPP. They will not present information tied to specific identified parcels.
- The RWQCBs will evaluate the reports, including sharing and discussing progress with the Sanctuary WQPP, and provide feedback from the RWQCBs to the County Farm Bureau Coordinating Committee where appropriate.
County Farm Bureaus, individual landowner/operators, related agricultural associations, RWQCBs, WQPP, NRCS, RCDs, UCCE, other technical assistance providers.
Short-term success will be measured by the following criteria: 1) by the number of landowners/operators who participate in developing watershed protection plans and individual, water quality management plans; 2) by the degree to which management practices are implemented as a result of these plans and outreach efforts; 3) by the degree to which self-monitoring data is utilized by growers and ranchers to evaluate the potential use/effectiveness of management practices; and 4) by how effectively the records of management practices and data are compiled and transmitted to the Regional Boards. The program will be considered a success in the long-term if self-monitoring data and other regional water quality data show improvements in water quality which result from the installation of management practices.