The proposed pesticide runoff rule is designed to reduce levels of toxins in surface water runoff in the Santa Maria River watershed in order to comply with federal guidelines.
"The ultimate goal is to have a long-term plan", says Chris Rose with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, "so that existing regulation that we have for the various implementing parties including agricultural and storm water entities would use that existing regulation to come into compliance with our water quality standards."
The pesticide runoff rule would also apply to residential areas.
"People will still be able to buy pesticides", Rose says, "but what we're asking them to do is be aware of the fact that in that runoff, it goes someplace."
"Our members are definitely concerned about the proposed regulation", says Claire Wineman of the Central Coast Grower-Shipper Association which represents local farmers.
"I think the primary area of concern is what they would call a reasonably forseeable method of compliance", Wineman says, "which means that the members, or the growers are able to achieve the targets that are set forward in the regulation, that's the primary concern."
If adopted the new rule would require monitoring of runoff to ensure water quality compliance.
"Not only will the regulations make it more difficult for farmers to farm, it could be impossible for them to achieve the regulatory targets that are being outlined", Wineman says, "as with most situations in farming, farmers are not able to pass on the additional cost of production to the consumers."
The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is hosting a final public hearing on the pesticide runoff rule on January 30, 2014 at 9:00am in the Watsonville City Council Chambers at 275 Main St. in Watsonville, Ca.
Recommendations will be forwarded to the State Water Quality Control Board with final adoption and approval to be made by the federal EPA.