Kern County Grower Penalized for Failing to Acquire Water Quality Permit

By on April 30, 2018

Kern County landowner Konark Ranches LLC has been issued a $100,000 penalty by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) 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. In September 2013, the Central Valley Water Board adopted a permit thereby setting waste discharge requirements for growers in the Kern River Watershed.

Under the waste discharge permit parameters growers can either join the Kern River Water Coalition Authority (Kern Coalition) or seek coverage under an individual permit. The Kern Coalition works directly with their member growers to assist in complying with Central Valley Water Board requirements by conducting surface water monitoring and preparing regional plans to address water quality problems. conducts monitoring and provides reports to the Central Valley Water Board on behalf of its member growers. However, growers who opt for an individual permit are subject to much higher costs associated with individual monitoring and reporting requirements. The permit ensures that waste discharges from commercial irrigated lands don’t harm the Central Valley’s rivers and groundwater aquifer.

“The vast majority of the growers in our region have signed up for their permits and are working to improve water quality,” said Patrick Pulupa, incoming Central Valley Water Board executive officer. “This penalty puts unpermitted growers on notice that evading their responsibilities will not give them a competitive advantage.”

Under the waste discharge requirements growers are still eligible to join a coalition group. To join a coalition group, growers must follow instructions depending on the location of parcels that are required to have regulatory coverage. The location determines which application process applies.

Owners of irrigated cropland can find out how to join a coalition group in the Tulare Lake Basin Area 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/. Information can also be accessed by calling the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program at 559-488-4396.