Can you believe August is already here? Where has the year gone? As most of you have already started harvesting or are preparing to harvest, Farm Bureau should be slowing down, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this year. There are a lot of things going on that members need to try to pay attention to…I know it’s hard because you have more important things going on (like harvest), but what is rolling out will impact the future of our great industry.
The month of August will be a big one for all things water in the Central Valley, as GSAs are rolling out GSPs in preparation for SGMA implementation. By the time the month is over, I wouldn’t be surprised if all the plans in the Valley are released. More importantly though are the plans that are being released in Madera County. Both Madera and Chowchilla Subbasins released their plans at the beginning of the month. What does that mean? Here’s your opportunity to weigh in on something that may dramatically change how you farm! The plans provide the framework of what to expect when SGMA implementation begins in January 2020 (4 months from now). These plans explain what the overdraft looks like, how plan implementation will be funded, outreach that will be done, what practices will be implemented to achieve sustainability, etc. The release of these plans triggers an opportunity for public comment. If you’d like a glimpse of what’s to come and have thoughts of your own as to how things might or should work, I strongly encourage you to try to skim the documents and provide feedback. Things to look for include groundwater extraction management and implementation, minimum threshold and measurable objectives, and mitigation measures, among other things. Keep an eye out for public meetings/workshops, and if you can’t attend those give me a call and share your thoughts or send a letter to the agencies involved in the plan. Something to keep in mind is that the Madera Subbasin has four plans coming out…the Joint GSP which covers the County GSA, the MID GSA, the Madera Water District GSA and the City GSA. The other three GSPs are for Gravelly Ford GSA, Root Creek GSA and New Stone GSA. The Joint GSP covers about 90% of the Madera Subbasin.
Another water issue to be mindful of does not have to do with water quantity, but with water quality. Many of you have heard me mention CVSALTs, and it being the next big thing in the water quality world…well it’s right around the corner. This month pilot management plans are being finalized for review by the State Water Board (SWB) next month. Once the SWB reviews the pilots, and adopts the plan, dischargers will have a limited amount of time to implement a plan that will address the high nitrate levels in high vulnerability areas (including Chowchilla, and soon to be Madera). I know what you’re all thinking…” I’m complying with the Irrigated Lands Program by being enrolled in ESJ, so I’m not worried about it”…well sorry, but that’s not the case. This will be another layer (more red tape) that growers will have to add to the already exhaustive list of things to comply with. Stay tuned for more information, but if you have any questions about this please feel free to give us a call.
As I recover from home this month from surgery, I will be reviewing documents and GSPs related not only to these issues but several others, in preparation for upcoming public meetings. I ask that you share any thoughts you have with me, so that I can ensure that your message is heard. As I’ve sat through many water meetings in the last few months, there are several red flags that I’m keeping a close eye on. Farm Bureau is dedicated to protecting the agriculture industry in Madera County, and in doing so will not back down from any difficult conversation.
As always, I encourage you to get engaged with whatever agency represents you…ask the questions, argue the points, because more often than not, I hear that constituents are happy because they haven’t shown up at meetings to voice their concerns. Don’t just rely on the word of your neighbor or friend because they seem to know what’s going on, see what’s happening for yourself, as you may see it differently than they do. Say something before it’s too late.
Stay tuned for details on our Annual Harvest Celebration and Annual Meeting on October 27th, in Chowchilla. There will be good entertainment, great food and most importantly awesome people to celebrate with. Enjoy the summer while it lasts, and best of luck with harvest. Know that Madera County Farm Bureau is by your side and is here to help with whatever you may need.