California Central Coast Creates
Unique Environmental, Agricultural Solutions

Watsonville, California (August 22, 2002) — Disputes between environmental groups, agricultural organizations and regulatory agencies over natural resources are nothing new. But strong, voluntary collaboration between these groups to protect these resources is.

Thatís why Congressman Sam Farr, D-Carmel, will commend the innovative and effective efforts of the Agricultural Water Quality Alliance (AWQA), one of the first collaborations of its kind in the U.S., at a press conference on Monday, Aug. 26 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Jim Rider Flower Farm in Watsonville.

AWQA (an alliance of farmers, resource agencies, researchers and environmental groups) was formed in 1999 to implement a voluntary water quality protection plan to protect and enhance the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Presentations will also be given by California Farm Bureau President Bill Pauli, U.S. Department of Agricultureís Daniel Mountjoy, and Monterey Bay Sanctuary Superintendent William Douros.

The Central Coast, which spans from San Mateo County to San Luis Obispo County, is home to both the most fertile agricultural land in the state and the largest national marine sanctuary in the country. Protecting the viability of both has required a new way of thinking about the relationship between agriculture and the environment.

The Central Coast supports a $3.5 billion dollar agricultural industry that includes more than 200 crops, and employs over 60,000 people. The Sanctuary covers 5000 square miles of water off California's Central Coast and is home to over 30 threatened or endangered species. The broad scope and unique collaboration has made AWQA a model approach to resource conservation that is now being replicated in other areas of the state, from the Central Valley to Mendocino County.

Since January, 2000, AWQA has prevented 258,875 tons of soil from eroding into sanctuary waters (the equivalent of a football field piled eleven stories tall with soil). The $5.5 million program has financed education, technical assistance, environmental quality enhancement projects and installations, a one-stop permit process, and resource assessment programs that have made these results, and others, possible.

Press Conference logistics:

Who: Presentations will be made by:
Directions: Audio / Visual:

For more information, please contact Kelly Coleman, Straus Communications, (415) 663-8343, (415) 379-6234 or kelly@strauscom.com.