Having grown up in an agricultural environment, I have the greatest respect and admiration for our farmers and growers. We trust our farmers and growers to commit to protecting our water quality because irrigated agriculture is the greatest source of water pollution.
Sadly, there is systemic abuse in the Central Coast Region by egregious growers who circumvent Ag Order 4.0. which is our region’s program that protects our groundwater and waterways from fertilizer and pesticide pollution. Because of the way this order is structured, farmers and growers are exempt from many of its rules and those of the Federal Clean Water Act and California Water Code.
Because of these exemptions, it has led some farmers and growers to apply much more fertilizer than is safe to protect our groundwater and waterways. Predominantly in harm’s way is our Carpinteria Salt Marsh, which is the recipient of many of our creeks and waterways.
Last month, I reported that a local grower had been discharging polluted wastewater via a drainage ditch at Sandpiper Mobile Home Park, endangering the nearby residents and emptying into the Salt Marsh. This discharge was rightfully reported to the Regional Water Board for investigation.
What is important is that the many loopholes in Ag Order 4.0 have been made public. Thursday, Aug.19, is the day the Central Coast Water Board staff will conduct a site inspection to document conditions of the operation discharging this polluted wastewater. I don’t know what the consequences will be to the grower if he fails the inspection, but I feel he should be held accountable just as you or I would be.