The state is fining five landowners who didn't get water permits for their cropland -- fines ranging from $2,240 to $8,600 in Merced, Madera or Stanislaus counties.
It's a reminder that state authorities are serious about permits to control farm water discharges into the underground. A reliable source told me another 150 more growers in the same region face similar enforcement.
Fines do not happen immediately after a deadline is missed. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board warns the landowners and gives them time to cooperate. Usually, three registered letters are sent to the landowners.
The five properties, ranging in size from 24 to 668 acres, are within the boundaries of the East San Joaquin Water Coalition, which already represents more than 1,000 farmers in the area.
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The landowners can join the coalition to achieve compliance.
These regulations are not a surprise. They have been coming for years, and the next stop is in the Fresno, Kings and parts of Tulare counties.
A lot of farmland in those counties is within the Kings River Conservation District, which is leading a group of growers to comply with the order. The group is called the Kings River Water Quality Coalition.
The deadline for these farmers to sign up for the permit program has already passed this month.
Those who have not signed up risk fines sometime down the line. They are encouraged to sign up with the coalition or contact the regional board.