The Sacramento Valley Water Quality Coalition (Coalition) was formed in 2003 to enhance and improve water quality in the Sacramento River, while sustaining the economic viability of agriculture, functional values of managed wetlands, and sources of safe drinking water. The Coalition is composed of more than 8,600 farmers and wetlands managers encompassing more than 1.3 million irrigated acres and supported by more than 200 agricultural representatives, natural resource professionals, and local governments throughout the region to improve water quality for Northern California farms, cities and the environment.

The Coalition developed and submitted its Regional Plan for Action to the State Water Resources Control Board and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board) in June 2003. To implement the Regional Plan for Action and to meet the Water Board’s Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP), the Coalition prepared and submitted a revised Monitoring and Reporting Program Plan (MRPP) on July 25, 2008 (the initial MRPP was submitted in April 2004 and remains in effect through 2008).

To effectively implement the MRPP, the Coalition and 10 sub-watershed groups signed a Memorandum of Agreement that defines the respective roles and responsibilities of the sub-watershed groups, as well as the Northern California Water Association. Additionally, the Coalition signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the California Rice Commission to coordinate the respective programs in the Sacramento River Basin. Although water districts are typically not direct members of the Coalition, many districts and companies have encouraged landowners to join and have assisted in grower education through newsletters and information updates. The Coalition is continuing to pursue partnerships with municipalities and urban areas in the region that are developing stormwater management plans and facing increasingly more stringent effluent limitations.

Development of the amended MRPP allowed the Coalition to reevaluate the waterways, identify drainages with the highest and most inclusive agriculture, and use water quality data from those sites to represent other similar areas. Based on the results collected by the Coalition to date, the Coalition proposed a much more focused monitoring program. Similarly, the Coalition proposed to conduct much more focused monitoring of most trace elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, selenium, and zinc) because Coalition monitoring has demonstrated that these metals do not exceed objectives and are not likely to cause adverse impacts to aquatic life or human health in waters receiving agricultural runoff in the Coalition watershed. Starting in 2009, the Coalition will be monitoring 21 semi-permanent sites. Additional sites that have management plan requirements may also be monitored.

The Water Board Executive Officer Pamela Creedon, on September 12, granted the Coalition a conditional interim approval of the monitoring program for January 1 through December 31, 2009. The Coalition will be working with the Water Board staff over the next year to address outstanding issues staff have identified with the goal of obtaining long-term approval.