California Dairy Producers Launch Groundwater Monitoring Program

October 27, 2010 08:25 AM

Responding to comprehensive water-quality regulations for Central California dairies, a group of San Joaquin Valley dairy producers has formed a coalition to help save money on water-quality compliance costs.

The Central Valley Dairy Representative Monitoring Program (CVDRMP), a voluntary, not-for-profit group, was launched this week with an emphasis on curbing costs for groundwater monitoring wells.
“In short, our plan calls for fewer wells and a strategic approach to meeting the requirements,” CVDRMP Chairman Tom Barcellos, a Tulare County dairy producer, noted in a letter dated Oct. 25, 2010.
Barcellos’ letter accompanied an informational packet mailed recently to Central Valley dairy landowners and operators.
In 2007, the State of California adopted comprehensive new water quality regulations for all Central Valley dairies. These new regulations require all existing dairies to install wells, at their own expense, exclusively for monitoring first-encountered groundwater. The regulations also require dairies to draw and analyze samples and submit reports on the results.
“Needless to say, the cost of installing these wells could be quite high,” Barcellos said. “We estimate more than $40,000 per dairy plus ongoing sampling and reporting costs.
The major benefit for participants is significant cost savings and reduced record-keeping, according to CVDRMP material. Instead of installing their own monitoring wells, with costs estimated to average about $42,000 across the industry, and then paying hundreds or thousands of dollars annually for ongoing sampling and reporting, dairy producers will participate in a program that shares costs among all contributors.
The CVDRMP will be funded by members through a milk check deduction. A nine-member board comprised of Central Valley dairy operators will oversee the program. The board will work closely with state water quality regulators to ensure that the program remains acceptable to them as an alternative to more costly approaches.
The newly formed coalition is “an alternative program that pools resources and conducts a group effort that benefits all of its members,” said Barcellos.
Participation in the program will be voluntary. Deadline to sign up for the program is Dec. 27, 2010.
Sign-up information is available on the Dairy CARES website and can be downloaded by clicking here.    

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