The Central Valley (Valley) is the epicenter of California’s economy—encompassing 40% of the state and providing water for people and businesses from San Francisco to San Diego, as well as food for California, the nation, and the world. Over the last 150 years, increased agricultural, industrial, and municipal activities, coupled with population growth, have resulted in dramatic increases in salts and nitrates in groundwater, soils, and surface waters. In some communities, the nitrate concentrations have caused unsafe drinking water. Salt accumulations have resulted in 250,000 acres being taken out of production and 1.5 million acres have been declared salinity impaired. If not addressed, the economic impacts of salts and nitrates on the Valley are estimated to exceed $3-billion per year.
Salt and nitrate discharges by agriculture, municipal, and industrial activities are regulated by the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board). New and improved management practices have already been implemented to reduce salt and nitrate discharges into surface and ground waters, but compliance with current regulations is difficult and, in some areas of the Valley, even impossible. New, updated, flexible regulations are needed that address the Valley’s natural diversities (e.g. climatic, hydrologic, geologic) while protecting water quality and maintaining a strong economy.
The Chowchilla Subbasin is a Priority 1 Subbasin for nitrate management. Read more about Nitrate Control. The Nitrate Control Program has three goals:
Provide safe drinking water supplies.
Reduce nitrate impacts to water supplies.
Restore groundwater quality where reasonable and feasible.