Management Zone Activities Launched in Six Priority 1 Areas

Many activities are underway to achieve compliance with the new Nitrate Control Program in the Central Valley’s six Priority 1 subbasins, where safe drinking water must be provided in areas with high nitrate levels and nitrate management plans must be adopted beginning in 2021. These subbasins include Modesto, Turlock, Chowchilla, Kings, Kaweah, and Tule.

Early steps on the path toward compliance have included outreach to permittees and disadvantaged community leaders, data collection, cost assessments, provision of drinking water, and progress toward the complex task of Management Zone formation.

Dischargers in Modesto and Turlock subbasins have formed the Valley Water Collaborative, a nonprofit serving as the governance entity for the Management Zone in these subbasins. The 12-member board of directors met for the first time in August, adopted bylaws, and selected consultants to document nitrate contamination and develop plans. Board members represent the irrigated lands coalition, food processors, cities, and dairy, winery, and poultry interests.

In the Chowchilla subbasin, staff from the Madera County Farm Bureau and Water Wise have reached out to permittees to gauge their interest in joining a Management Zone. They have also been gathering required groundwater data. On tap next: discussing governance for the Management Zone and assessing preliminary costs for drinking water supply approaches. Early activities include outreach to disadvantaged communities regarding the safe drinking water options.

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Working Collaboratively to Form Management Zones During Challenging Times

Dischargers subject to the new Nitrate Control Program in the six priority 1 groundwater subbasins are making solid progress toward meeting compliance requirements. The work has gone forth despite the challenges of the pandemic. Efforts have been collaborative and tailored to local needs across varied sectors of interest.


In May, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board mailed Notices to Comply (NTCs) to dischargers in the six Priority 1 groundwater subbasins for the new Nitrate Control Program regulations—Modesto, Turlock, Chowchilla, Kings, Kaweah, and Tule. These areas must provide safe drinking water in areas with high nitrate levels and adopt nitrate management plans beginning in 2021.

Those who discharge in these areas must decide soon whether to comply individually with the new requirements (Pathway A) or join with others in the basin to meet the requirements (Pathway B).

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Central Valley Salinity Coalition

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