CV-SALTS – Managing Salt and Nitrate in the California Central Valley
Nitrate Control Program Overview
Nitrate Challenge in the Central Valley
Over the last 150 years, increased agricultural, industrial, and municipal activities, coupled with population growth, have resulted in dramatic increases in nitrate in groundwater in the Central Valley. Many residential well water users in the Central Valley rely on groundwater for drinking water, and some of them experience unsafe levels of nitrate.
Nitrate is a tasteless, odorless, and invisible chemical that can cause health effects when found in high levels in drinking water. Nitrate is common in fertilizers and waste discharges in the Central Valley. Learn more about the potential human health impacts from nitrate here.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) regulates nitrate discharges to groundwater from human activities. Compliance with past regulations proved difficult to impossible for permitees, so the CV-SALTS initiative proposed the Nitrate Control Program as part of a package of regulatory improvements. The Central Valley Water Board adopted the new requirements in May 2018.
Nitrate Control Program Goals
The Nitrate Control Program:
Active (Priority 1) Nitrate Control Program Timeline
Permittees in developing (Priority 2) groundwater subbasins will receive Notices to Comply between 2022 and 2024, initiating their selection of Pathway A or Pathway B.
CV-SALTS maps areas of high nitrate concentration in the Central Valley.
Central Valley Water Board and State Water Board approve Nitrate Control Program.
Central Valley Water Board sends Notices to Comply to nitrate permittees in Priority 1 areas. Nitrate permittees must choose one of two permitting pathways.
Pathway A: Individual Permitting Approach
Permittees individually assume all compliance costs and responsibilities and submit a Notice of Intent for Pathway A.
Pathway B: Management Zone Permitting Approach
Permittees share compliance costs and responsibilities by forming a local Management Zone and submitting a Preliminary Management Zone Proposal.
Permittees (Pathway A or B) submit and begin implementation of an Early Action Plan to provide safe drinking water to affected residents.
Permittees (individually or through a Management Zone) develop nitrate management plan.