Santa Maria, Calif - Local growers are asking the California State and Regional Water Quality Boards in Sacramento to hold off on its new regulations.
In 2010, state regulators introduced some stricter regulations to reduce what they claimed was harmful runoff into ground-water. Growers and ranchers claimed the new rules would be impossible to comply with and put some of them out of business.
In 2011, the agriculture industry came up with their own proposal to control nitrates running into the ground water.
The growers are meeting with the water quality board in Sacramento for a hearing on the regulation.
"The regulations will be extremely expensive for growers especially in the vegetable industry, requiring a great deal of monitoring," says Kevin Merrill of Mesa Vineyard. "Those costs will be then be passed down to the consumer which will pay more at the supermarket."
The new regulation aims to control pollutants in water run off and bring it to drinking water standards but Merrill says that's impossible to complete in such a limited amount of time.
"Well its five to ten years--they want drinking water standards and it will take hundreds of years probably to get it where it needs to be," says Merrill.
The state and regional water quality board wants to drop the levels of nitrate in water run off but Merrill says nitrate comes from hundreds of years of buildup.
"The Ag community will work cooperative with the regional board on goals that are attainable and have been over the last forty years, with new irrigation techniques and so on. We can reach those but its going to take time," says Merrill.
He says he hopes the water board will go back to the more reasonable water quality standards of 2004.
HE SAYS HE HOPES THE water BOARD WILL GO BACK TO THE MORE REASONABLE water quality standards of 2004.
"If we can't literally it risks putting agriculture out of business here and you'll end up buying your fruits and vegetables from foreign countries," says Merrill.
If the board moves forward with the new regulation,the growers can appeal it in court but they hope the board revisits the regulation and has a final outcome that works for everybody.