New Water Quality Rules Headed to California Feedlots and Dairies

Last June, the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board (RB5) adopted a General Order for Confined Bovine Feeding Operations (R5- 2017-0058). Heifer operations and feedyards that supplement feed (confine animals) more than 45 days a year are covered by this Order and include: calf ranches, dairy heifer operations, stockyards, finishing yards, auction yards, veal calf facilities, and corrals or other confinement areas used to finish cattle for slaughter at grazing operations. What is not covered: corrals that are an integral part of a grazing or pasture operation. This order covers limited time operations (auction yards), smaller facilities (with less than 100 animal units), and all other facilities. Although there are reduced monitoring and reporting requirements for the auction yards and smaller facilities, all facilities need to submit a Notice of Intent. RB5 staff identify more than 800 facilities will be covered under this Order.

Do now

The first deadline is coming soon: July 1, 2018. The Notice of Intent must be completed by each facility operator/owner and submitted to RB5. It contains basic facility contact information, associated land (if manure is applied to land), and animal populations. Also, it has a brief description of the facility, how manure is handled, existing flood protection, if manure is composted, and where manure ultimately ends up. It will take a bit of time to gather all the necessary information.

Plan for later 

You will want to begin the development of both Waste and Nutrient Management Plans. Facility specific information is required. Work with a Certified Nutrient Management Specialist, such as a Crop Adviser, to develop your Nutrient Management Plan (NMP); certification of NMP completion is due July 1, 2019. Work with an Engineer to develop a Waste Management Plan (WMP) including a Farm Water Quality Plan, due December 31, 2019, which describes current or proposed practices to address surface water monitoring provisions. The WMP is due July 1, 2020, including an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Plan. It is helpful to get a jump start on the O&M to allow the greatest amount of time to modify facility infrastructure if necessary.

What kind of monitoring and reporting are required?

Reports are due beginning in 2019. July 1, 2019: be sure irrigated cropland is covered in a surface water monitoring program (notify RB5 if you have joined a coalition for surface water monitoring or request permission from RB5 to form a Joint Monitoring Program for surface water monitoring; and notify RB5 of your intent to join a representative groundwater monitoring program or undertake individual groundwater monitoring. December 21, 2019: submit a workplan for a surface water Joint Monitoring Program; submit a demonstration of no potential to discharge to surface water from your cropland; and submit a Farm Water Quality Plan. The first Annual Report is due July 1, 2020. Much work will be needed to establish group monitoring for surface and groundwater monitoring requirements.

If you have a heifer operation that is adjacent to a dairy operation or shares the same land application area with a dairy operation, you may request that the heifer operation be covered under the Dairy General Order. You will want to think this decision through carefully and consider record keeping and reporting requirements as well as flexibility of any future land use decisions.

The Order is available at Questions? Contact Charlene Herbst (916) 464- 4724 or Dale Essary (559) 445-5093 with RB5.