Agriculture Water Quality Alliance (AWQA)
California Central Coast
Implementation of the Agriculture and Rural Lands Action Plan
of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
January 2000 – July 2002
- Preventing Erosion and Runoff Protects Water Quality
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) have assisted producers to complete the following in the 2 ½ years since the Agriculture and Rural Lands Action Plan was completed,:
- Conservation plans have been developed for 97,200 acres of crop and range land.
- Conservation plans have been applied on 77,500 acres of crop and range land.
- 30,237 acres protected from soil erosion.
- 258,875 tons of soil per year prevented from eroding into the Sanctuary (equivalent to the area of a foot ball field piled 11 stories high with eroded soil).
- 2,182 acres of improved irrigation management to conserve water and prevent runoff and leaching.
- 3,258 acres of improved tillage to retain crop residue and prevent erosion.
- 1,000 acres of grassed buffers installed around cropland to protect water quality.
- Over 100,000 acres of prescribed grazing management to prevent overgrazing and reduce runoff and erosion.
- Rethinking the Way Agencies Do Business: AWQA
Financial Investment in Water Quality Protection
- $1.1 million of Congressional support has been obtained by Congressman Sam Farr for AWQA partners to implement the Agriculture and Rural Lands Action Plan.
- $3 million in additional grants from private, state, and federal sources have been awarded to AWQA partners to finance educational, technical assistance, and resource assessment programs and project installation.
- $1.4 million in US Department of Agriculture cost-share funding provided to farmers to implement environmental quality enhancement projects.
- Making it easier for farmers to install water quality protection projects: One-stop permits are now available for farmers and ranchers in the Salinas Valley implementing water quality protection or enhancement projects. Eight federal, state, and local regulatory agencies have authorized the use of 16 conservation practices if landowners work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service or Resource Conservation District.
- The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Coalition of Central Coast County Farm Bureau, NRCS, RCDs, and UC Cooperative Extension meet monthly to coordinate water quality protection efforts in the six county area.
- 6 multi-agency trainings conducted to improve coordination of water quality evaluation and planning (e.g. Nutrient Management Planning, Water Quality Tracking, TMDLs (Total Daily Maximum Loads), Farm Plan Mapping, Permit Coordination, Pesticide Screening Tool).
- Economic costs and benefits of applying 15 conservation practices are being documented by University of California Cooperative Extension at the request of farmers who need to know the bottom-line of investing in water quality protection.
- Farmer / Rancher Participation in Water Quality Protection
- 10 Watershed Working Groups, organized by the Coalition of Central Coast County Farm Bureaus, have been formed and are actively developing local watershed protection plans. 10 additional groups are in the process of being formed.
- 150 farmers and ranchers are actively participating in existing Farm Bureau Watershed Working Groups to plan and install conservation practices on their properties that reduce erosion and nutrient runoff.
- A diversity of crops are represented in Watershed Working Groups: cattle, vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, leeks, artichokes, brussel sprouts, peppers, etc.), orchards (fruits and nuts), field and greenhouse flowers, strawberries, and pumpkins, etc.
- Water Quality Classes for farmers
- 80 farmers have attended 15 hours of University of California Cooperative Extension courses designed to help farmers develop individual water quality protection plans for their properties.
- 40 of these farmers have already developed comprehensive water quality plans for more than 10,700 acres of irrigated crops.
- An additional 23 classes are planned over the next 18 months for farmers in the 6 counties.
- Water Quality Classes for ranchers
- 191 ranchers have attended University of California Cooperative Extension sponsored courses since 1997.
- These ranchers operate over 375,000 acres of rangeland in the 6 counties.
- Water quality plans have been completed for 242,582 of these acres.
- 36 workshops have been conducted to train farmers in the benefits and use of specific conservation practices such as cover crops, stream bank protection, irrigation evaluation, crop row alignment. Over 900 farmers have attended these workshops.
- 13 new technical brochures and 29 Fact Sheets on farming practices that affect water quality have been developed by the Resource Conservation Districts, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Bureau Coalition .