The Central Coast Water Board has held two more indepth meetings to review the many details and concerns of the proposed Ag Order 4.0. Several board members acknowledged the burdens that would be placed on farmers by limiting the amount of nitrogen fertilizer they could apply to crops and requiring them to plant native vegetation along waterways.

“These are not going to be easy targets to achieve,” said board Chair Jean-Pierre Wolff.

He added later that the board should not be doing research and development for the order “on the back of agriculture.” Wolff noted that CDFA advisors and UC Cooperative Extension specialists will play crucial scientific and educational roles in helping the industry learn how to comply with the requirements.

Other board members argued that the 30-year timeframe for balancing nitrates in the groundwater was too slow and the rising crisis with contaminated drinking water in the region should be addressed immediately. Staff said dropping this to 20 years would significantly raise already high compliance costs for growers.