Nitrate pollution is getting a lot of attention in California. Even as other states—notably Florida—enact TMDLs for nutrients, California’s Central Coast Regional Water Quality Board recently adopted new rules for agriculture, requiring ag operations to reduce nitrate and pesticide pollution.
Just before the new rules were announced, the University of California–Davis released a study showing that in some areas of the state, 96% of the nitrate contamination in groundwater is a result of fertilizer and animal waste. Five counties were included in the study, comprising about 40% of the state’s irrigated agricultural land and half its dairy herds. The agricultural industry had previously argued that it’s impossible to identify the source of the nitrate because it can come from many different sources, such as septic systems, water treatment plants, and landscape fertilizers.
As this article reports, drinking water with high levels of nitrate—as may be the case especially for residents relying on private wells—has been associated with a number of disorders, including thyroid cancer, birth defects, and “blue baby syndrome,” which reduces the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen, as well as to less serious health problems.
The UC Davis study reports that as many as 260,000 people in Salinas Valley and the Tulare Lake Basin might be drinking water with high nitrate levels. However, because the current groundwater contamination likely results from nitrates that entered the soil years ago, there may be a significant time lag between the reduction of nitrates applied today and the clearing up of the groundwater pollution.
The Environmental Working Group reports that Congress is considering future funding levels for land and water conservation programs, which would provide farmers with support for the requirements of California’s new rule, such as managing erosion, pesticides, and nutrients.
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
March 22nd, 2012
5 Proven Social Media Tactics to Engage Your Audience
Extend your outreach and campaign effectiveness with social media. Join Erica Hooper, Strategic Director at S. Groner Associates, to explore social media's (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) opportunities, myths, and real-world tested and proven social media tactics designed to engage your audience. Read more…
April 5th, 2012
for Surface Water Quality
Constantly influenced by natural eutrophication, direct human impact, and a changing climate, surface water is a scarce natural resource needing effective protection. Join Shahram (Shane) Missaghi to explore the function and benefits of BMPs in protecting surface water, and examine three key criteria to insure their successful implementation: water, soil, and climate Read more...
April 12th, 2012
Water Auditing 101
Reduce your water waste and cost! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC to explore the key attributes, uses, and efficiency/cost opportunities of water audits. Aichele will lead a discussion of what a water audit includes, who performs the audit, where and when they should and can be performed, and the opportunities that exist in performing a water audit. Join us and gain an understanding of the potential savings possible, rebates available, and how quickly this unobtrusive work can be implemented from audit to installation to optimize your water use and minimize your cost. Read more...
April 18th, - May 25th, 2012
Sediment and Erosion Control
Master Class Series
Join industry expert and bestselling author Jerald S. Fifield, Ph.D., CISEC, CPESC and Tina R. Evans, PE, CISEC for a comprehensive 6-part online master class and workshop series (0.9 CEUs / 9 PDHs) exploring the ins and outs of effective sediment and erosion control plan design and review based on Fifield’s recently released 3rd edition of the bestselling manual Designing and Reviewing Effective Sediment and Erosion Control Plans (included in your Master Class Series package).