Get Water-Wise
It's worth your while to become well-versed on water quality standards and regulations.

by Michael Kovalycsik, National Sales & Marketing Director, Delta T Solutions

 

Compost

Implement water quality Best Management Practices, such as this compost filter berm, at your greenhouse operation.

Water quality is all over the news these days. From investigations into bottled water content to the aftermath of the tragic earthquake and tsunami events in Japan that caused potential plutonium leaks into the water supply, people are scared. This growing concern about water quality, added to the problems of drought and water availability, climate change and population growth, presents a significant pressure to agricultural producers to make water quality management a high priority. Growers can both conserve water and reduce pollution by adopting water recycling measures with the help of many available resources and industry organizations.

Why Water? Why Now?

Stormwater runoff from agricultural fields and greenhouse operations has been found to contain high concentrations of organic waste, fertilizer, pesticides and soil that can leave your property. When these materials wash into local waters, they poison fish and contaminate the water supply, in addition to other environmental detriments like blocking light transmission, lowering water temperature, reducing the amount of water that soaks into the ground, and inhibiting photosynthesis.

Growers recognize the need for water conservation and runoff management, and many already are proactive about water conservation; however, recent water quality laws passed in California (see “Are You Ready For Water Quality Regulations?”) are the most stringent regulations the state has seen thus far. Considering that California is a leader in environmental regulation, with most states eventually adopting the same or similar actions, growers should look to California standards to be proactive in protecting water resources in your own state.

Water quality standards are created by state agencies for different types of water bodies and water body locations per desired uses. The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires each state to submit a set of biennial reports on the quality of water in their area, to be reviewed and approved by the EPA. These reports are completed by the governing jurisdiction, typically a Department of Environmental Quality or similar state agency, and are available on the web. In coming years it is expected that the governing jurisdictions will submit all three reports as a single document, called the "Integrated Report."

Learn the water quality issues in your own state so you can help your employees, customers and the public understand why water quality is important. Becoming a leader in protecting water resources will not only help your community, it will help your business, as well.

Where Do We Start?

The Environmental Protection Agency offers a list of Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) for an overall guide to effective groundwater protection. BMPs are techniques or controls used to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants into the stormwater conveyance system. Visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/menuofbmps/ for a menu of BMPs.

There are many useful resources published and available online to assist you with the selection and implementation of water quality BMPs that are appropriate for your growing operation.  Each growing operation is unique and therefore each grower’s specific program will be unique, as well. See the links below to assist you in the process of developing a water protection program.

http://watereducationalliance.org/default.asp

http://agwaterstewards.org/txp/index.php

http://www.projectcleanwater.org/

http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/awm/ag_water.html

http://www.cabmphandbooks.com/

http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/

 
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