Central Valley Water Board settles with Seven Hill LLC for lack of Water Quality Permit

By on May 16, 2018

Shasta County Landowner Seven Hill LLC has been assessed a settlement fee of $27,720 by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) for failing to obtain the required permit for discharging waste from irrigated cropland. State law requires water quality permits for commercial irrigated lands. These permits are issued to ensure waste discharges don’t harm the Central Valley’s rivers and groundwater aquifers.

“Owners of unpermitted irrigated lands are undermining the regulatory program and efforts to mitigate agricultural-related water quality problems,” said Andrew Altevogt, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board. “With this penalty the Board is sending a strong message that it’s time for the remaining non-permitted growers to obtain all appropriate regulatory coverage.”

Effective March 2014, the Central Valley Water Board issued a permit allowing farmers within the Sacramento River Watershed to join a coalition of growers. The Sacramento Valley Water Quality Coalition assists growers in complying with permit requirements by conducting monitoring and providing reports to the Central Valley Water Board on behalf of the growers.

Growers have the option to remain independent and not join the coalition but they incur much higher costs associated with conducting their own individual monitoring and reporting directly to the Central Valley Water Board. Landowners who do not acquire the required permit are subject to fines and may lose the future option to join the coalition and be regulated under the coalition-based permit.

Two other California landowners have been cited and financially penalized by California water boards earlier this year for failing to get the required permit in order to discharge waste from irrigated cropland. In February Modoc County landowner Renee Larranaga was cited and issued a $19,773 penalty by the CVRWQCB for failing to obtain a required permit for discharging waste from his irrigated cropland into the Pit River Watershed. In late April Kern County landowner Konark Ranches LLC was issued a $100,000 penalty also by the CVRWQCB for failing to get a required permit in order to discharge waste from irrigated cropland on their 158-acre property located in the Kern River Watershed.

Fines for non-compliance of water quality permits is enforced by the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP). ILRP staff conducts outreach to owners of commercial irrigated lands to educate them about the program and to require regulatory compliance when appropriate. The ILRP staff also investigates complaints and pursues enforcement against growers for administrative violations including failure to submit required reports and pollution discharge-related violations.

Irrigated cropland owners can find out how to join a coalition group and get the required regulatory coverage by going to the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program Join a Coalition Group webpage at: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/water_issues/irrigated_lands/for_growers/coalition_groups/ or by calling the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program at 916-464-4611. More information about these fines can be found at the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program Compliance and Outreach Activities webpage at: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/water_issues/irrigated_lands/grower_outreach_enf/.