As part of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, the regional water board for the Central Valley has been testing on-farm drinking wells. Yet 10,000 or more small farmers have not enrolled in the program and board staff are stretched too thin to reach out to each grower, according to the board’s executive director, Patrick Pulupa.

In updating the state water board on the program Tuesday, Pulupa called this “a tough enforcement nut to crack,” since many of those farmers speak little English or are not aware of the program. About half of those farms are less than 10 acres and nearly 30% are less than an acre. Pulupa stressed that any farm over 100 acres is already enrolled and many growers have told them they don’t drink the well water anyway. Out of nearly 8,000 wells tested so far, more than 30% exceeded safe drinking levels.

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The regional board has also been rolling out the CV-SALTS program to test for salinity in nearby residential drinking water wells.