Monitoring and Advocating
Some of our top crops – particularly avocados, strawberries and raspberries – are highly sensitive to the amount of salts in irrigation water. If the level is too high, as it often is in water discharged from municipal wastewater plants, plants suffer damage that reduces their vigor and diminishes crop yields. Because many municipal wastewater treatment plants discharge into streams and rivers that ultimately recharge groundwater, a number of Ventura County’s important basins have been contaminated by high levels of salts, such as chloride.
Agriculture, however, can also be a source of water contamination. Inefficient nutrient and irrigation management can result in violations of state and federal clean water regulations when runoff carries fertilizer into streams or groundwater. Storm runoff can carry topsoil away, taking long-lasting residues of legacy pesticides such as DDT — both storm runoff and irrigation runoff can transport residues of currently used agricultural chemicals into streams and rivers.
Farm Bureau works on behalf of local farmers and ranchers to address both sides of the issue. We manage a complex program, the Ventura County Agricultural Irrigated Lands Group, that enables farm operators to comply with state and federal water-quality regulations. We monitor and advocate cost-effective solutions to reduce or reverse chloride contamination of local water supplies.