Article 9.7. Integrated On-farm Drainage Management of California Health And Safety Code >> Division 20. >> Chapter 6.5. >> Article 9.7.
The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The long-term economic and environmental sustainability of
agriculture is critical to the future of the state, and it is in the
interest of the state to enact policies that enhance that
(b) High levels of salt and selenium are present in many soils in
the state as a result of both natural occurrences and irrigation
practices that concentrate their presence in soils.
(c) The buildup of salt and selenium in agricultural soil is an
unsustainable practice that degrades soil, harms an irreplaceable
natural resource, reduces crop yields and farm income, and poses
threats to wildlife.
(d) Salt and selenium buildup can degrade groundwater, especially
in areas with perched groundwater aquifers.
(e) Off-farm drainage of irrigation water with high levels of salt
and selenium degrades rivers and waterways, particularly the San
Joaquin River and its tributaries. This environmental damage presents
a clear and imminent danger that warrants immediate action to
prevent or mitigate harm to public health and the environment.
(f) Discharge of agricultural drainage water to manmade drains and
ponds has resulted in environmental damage, including damage to
wildlife. Proposals to discharge agricultural drainage to natural
water bodies, including the San Francisco Bay, are extremely
expensive and pose threats to the environmental quality of those
(g) Water supplies for agricultural irrigation have been reduced
significantly in recent years, necessitating increased efforts to use
water more efficiently.
(h) Although salt can be collected and managed as a commercial
farm commodity, California currently imports salt from other
(i) Integrated on-farm drainage management is a sustainable system
of managing salt-laden farm drainage water. Integrated on-farm
drainage management is designed to eliminate the need for off-farm
drainage of irrigation water, prevent the on-farm movement of
irrigation and drainage water to groundwater, restore and enhance the
productive value of degraded farmland by removing salt and selenium
from the soil, conserve water by reducing the demand for irrigation
water, and create the potential to convert salt from a waste product
and pollutant to a commercial farm commodity.
(j) Although integrated on-farm drainage management facilities are
designed and operated expressly to prevent threats to groundwater
and wildlife, these facilities currently may be classified as surface
impoundments pursuant to the Toxic Pits Act of 1984, which
discourages farmers from using them as an environmentally preferable
means of managing agricultural drainage water.
(k) It is the policy of the state to conserve water and to
minimize the environmental impacts of agricultural drainage. It is
therefore in the interest of the state to encourage the voluntary
implementation of sustainable farming and irrigation practices,
including, but not limited to, integrated on-farm drainage
management, as a means of improving environmental protection,
conserving water, restoring degraded soils, and enhancing the
economic productivity of farms.
For purposes of this article, the following terms have
the following meanings:
(a) "Agricultural drainage water" means surface drainage water or
percolated irrigation water that is collected by subsurface drainage
tiles placed beneath an agricultural field.
(b) "On-farm" means land within the boundaries of a property or
geographically contiguous properties, owned or under the control of a
single owner or operator or a publicly organized land-based agency,
that is used for the commercial production of agricultural
commodities and that contains an integrated on-farm drainage
management system and a solar evaporator.
(c) "Integrated on-farm drainage management system" means a
facility for the on-farm management of agricultural drainage water
that does all of the following:
(1) Reduces levels of salt and selenium in soil by the application
of irrigation water to agricultural fields.
(2) Collects agricultural drainage water from irrigated fields and
sequentially reuses that water to irrigate successive crops until
the volume of residual agricultural drainage water is substantially
decreased and its salt content significantly increased.
(3) Discharges the residual agricultural drainage water to an
on-farm solar evaporator for evaporation and appropriate salt
(4) Eliminates discharge of agricultural drainage water to
evaporation ponds and outside the boundaries of the property or
properties that produces the agricultural drainage water and that is
served by the integrated on-farm drainage management system and the
(d) "Publicly organized land-based agency" means a resource
conservation district, as described in Division 9 (commencing with
Section 9001) of the Public Resources Code, an irrigation district,
as described in Division 11 (commencing with Section 20500) of the
Water Code, any other district established pursuant to the Water Code
whose operations may include managing agricultural irrigation or
drainage, or a joint powers authority formed for the purpose of
managing agricultural drainage or salt.
(e) "Regional board" means a California regional water quality
(f) "Solar evaporator" means an on-farm area of land and its
associated equipment that meets all of the following conditions:
(1) It is designed and operated to manage agricultural drainage
water discharged from the integrated on-farm drainage management
(2) The area of the land that makes up the solar evaporator is
equal to, or less than, 2 percent of the area of the land that is
managed by the integrated on-farm drainage management system.
(3) Agricultural drainage water from the integrated on-farm
drainage management system is discharged to the solar evaporator by
timed sprinklers or other equipment that allows the discharge rate to
be set and adjusted as necessary to avoid standing water within the
solar evaporator or, if a water catchment basin is part of the solar
evaporator, within that portion of the solar evaporator that is
outside the basin.
(4) The combination of the rate of discharge of agricultural
drainage water to the solar evaporator and subsurface tile drainage
under the solar evaporator provides adequate assurance that
constituents in the agricultural drainage water will not migrate from
the solar evaporator into the vadose zone or waters of the state in
concentrations that pollute or threaten to pollute the waters of the
(g) "State board" means the State Water Resources Control Board.
(h) "Water catchment basin" means an area within the boundaries of
a solar evaporator that is designated to receive and hold any water
that might otherwise be standing water within the solar evaporator.
The entire area of a water catchment basin shall be permanently and
continuously covered with netting, or otherwise designed,
constructed, and operated to prevent access by avian wildlife to
standing water within the basin.
The state board, in consultation, as necessary, with
other appropriate state agencies, shall adopt or amend emergency
regulations that establish minimum requirements for the design,
construction, operation, and closure of a solar evaporator. The
regulations shall include, but are not limited to, requirements to
ensure all of the following:
(a) The operation of a solar evaporator does not result in a
discharge of on-farm agricultural drainage water outside the
boundaries of the area of land that makes up the solar evaporator.
(b) (1) The solar evaporator is designed, constructed, and
operated so that, under reasonably forseeable operating conditions,
the discharge of agricultural water to the solar evaporator does not
result in standing water or drift of salt spray, mist, or particles
outside the boundaries of the solar evaporator to the extent that
drift constitutes a nuisance condition.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), a solar evaporator may be
designed, constructed, and operated to accommodate standing water, if
it includes a water catchment basin.
(3) The board may specify those conditions under which a solar
evaporator is required to include a water catchment basin to prevent
standing water that would otherwise occur within the solar
(c) Avian wildlife is adequately protected. In adopting
regulations pursuant to this subdivision, the state board shall do
(1) Consider and, to the extent feasible, incorporate best
management practices recommended or adopted by the United States Fish
and Wildlife Service.
(2) Establish guidelines for the authorized inspection of a solar
evaporator by the regional board pursuant to Section 25209.15. The
guidelines shall include technical advice developed in consultation
with the Department of Fish and Game and the United States Fish and
Wildlife Service that may be used by regional board personnel to
identify observed conditions relating to the operation of a solar
evaporator that indicate an unreasonable threat to avian wildlife.
(d) Constituents in agricultural drainage water discharged to the
solar evaporator will not migrate from the solar evaporator into the
vadose zone or the waters of the state in concentrations that pollute
or threaten to pollute the waters of the state.
(e) Adequate groundwater monitoring and recordkeeping is performed
to ensure compliance with this article.
(f) Salt isolated in a solar evaporator shall be managed in
accordance with all applicable laws and shall eventually be harvested
and sold for commercial purposes, used for beneficial purposes, or
stored or disposed in a facility authorized to accept that waste
pursuant to this chapter or Division 30 (commencing with Section
40000) of the Public Resources Code.
(a) A person who intends to operate a solar evaporator
shall, before installing the solar evaporator, file a notice of
intent with the regional board, using a form prepared by the regional
board. The form shall require the person to provide all of the
(1) The location of the solar evaporator.
(2) The design of the solar evaporator and the equipment that will
be used to operate it.
(3) The maximum anticipated rate at which agricultural drainage
water will be discharged to the solar evaporator.
(4) The anticipated rate of accumulation of evaporite salt in the
solar evaporator and the anticipated period of time before the salt
needs to be removed to ensure the continued effective operation of
(5) Plans for operating the solar evaporator in compliance with
this article, including a plan to collect and remove evaporite salt
to ensure the continued effective operation of the evaporator.
(6) Groundwater monitoring data that are adequate to establish
baseline data for use in comparing subsequent data submitted by the
operator pursuant to this article.
(7) Weather data and a water balance analysis sufficient to assess
the likelihood of standing water occurring within the solar
(8) A brief description of any documents or reports required
pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13
(commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code), with
the appropriate document or report, if required, included as an
attachment to the form.
(9) Any other information required or authorized by regulation.
(b) The regional board shall, within 30 calendar days after
receiving the notice submitted pursuant to subdivision (a), review
the notice of intent for its completeness, inspect, if necessary, the
site where the proposed solar evaporator will be located, and notify
the operator of whether the notice of intent is complete. If the
regional board determines that the notice of intent is not complete,
the regional board shall issue a written response to the applicant
identifying the reason why it is not complete. If the regional board
determines that the notice of intent is complete, the regional board
shall notify the operator in writing that the notice of intent is
(c) A person who receives a written notice of completeness
pursuant to subdivision (b) shall, before operating the installed
solar evaporator, request the regional board to conduct a compliance
inspection of the solar evaporator. Within 30 days after receiving a
request, the regional board shall inspect the solar evaporator to
determine whether it complies with this article. If the regional
board finds that the solar evaporator does not comply with this
article, the regional board, within 140 days after the inspection,
shall issue a written response to the applicant identifying the
reasons for noncompliance. Except as provided in subdivision (e), if
the regional board finds that the solar evaporator complies with the
requirements of this article, the regional board, within 30 days
after the inspection, shall issue a written notice of authority to
operate to the operator of the solar evaporator. The regional board
may include in the authority to operate any associated condition that
the regional board deems necessary to ensure compliance with the
purposes and requirements of this article.
(d) A person shall not commence the operation of a solar
evaporator before one of the following occurs:
(1) The person receives a written notice of authority to operate
the solar evaporator pursuant to this section.
(2) The expiration of 140 days after the solar evaporator is
inspected pursuant to subdivision (c), and the person has not
received a written response from the regional board, identifying
reasons for noncompliance.
(e) The regional board shall review an authority to operate issued
by the regional board pursuant to this section every five years. The
regional board shall renew the authority to operate, unless the
regional board finds that the operator of the solar evaporator has
not demonstrated compliance with the requirements of this article.
(a) A person operating a solar evaporator shall submit to
the regional board, in April and October of every year, all of the
(1) Bimonthly waterflow data taken immediately prior to discharge
to the solar evaporator.
(2) Bimonthly water quality data, as required by the regional
board, taken immediately prior to discharge to the solar evaporator.
(3) Semiannual groundwater monitoring data taken from an area in
the vicinity of the solar evaporator, as approved by the regional
board. Groundwater shall be monitored for salts, selenium, and other
elements, as determined by the board, that could adversely affect
avian wildlife or beneficial uses of adjacent groundwater.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the regional board may do
either of the following regarding data collected pursuant to
paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a):
(1) Reduce the data collection schedule two years after data is
submitted pursuant to subdivision (a), if the regional board
determines that discharge to the solar evaporator has been adequately
(2) Increase the data collection schedule, if the regional board
determines that changes in monitoring results or other changes in the
operation of the solar evaporator require more frequent data
(a) The regional board, consistent with its existing
statutory authority, shall inspect any solar evaporator that is
authorized to operate pursuant to Section 25209.13 at least once
every five years to ensure continued compliance with the requirements
of this article. In conducting any inspection, the regional board
may request the participation of a qualified state or federal avian
biologist in a technical advisory capacity. The regional board shall
include in the inspection report conducted pursuant to this section
any evidence of adverse impacts on avian wildlife and shall forward
the report to the appropriate state and federal agencies.
(b) If the regional board, as a result of an inspection or review
conducted pursuant to this article, determines that a solar
evaporator is not in compliance with the requirements of this
article, the regional board shall provide written notice to the
operator of the solar evaporator of that failure, and shall include
in that written notice the reasons for that determination.
(c) Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 13300) of, and Chapter 5.8
(commencing with Section 13399) of, Division 7 of the Water Code
apply to any failure to comply with the requirements of this article
and to any action, or failure to act, by the state board or a
regional board. The regional board may, consistent with Section 13223
of the Water Code, revoke or modify an authorization to operate
issued pursuant to this article.
(a) For the purposes of Chapter 3.5 (commencing with
Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government
Code, including Section 11349.6 of the Government Code, the adoption
or amendment of the regulations required to be adopted pursuant to
this article is an emergency and shall be considered by the Office of
Administrative Law as necessary for the immediate preservation of
the public peace, health and safety, and general welfare.
(b) Notwithstanding Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of
Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, any
emergency regulations adopted or amended by the state board pursuant
to this article shall be filed with, but not be repealed by, the
Office of Administrative Law and shall remain in effect until
repealed by the state board.
Any solar evaporator operating under a valid written
notice of authority to operate issued by the regional board pursuant
to this article, including any facility operating pursuant to Article
9.5 (commencing with Section 25208) prior to January 1, 2003, that
the regional board determines is in compliance with the requirements
of this article, is not subject to Article 9.5 (commencing with
Section 25208) or Sections 13260 or 13263 of the Water Code. Upon
determining pursuant to this section that a facility is a solar
evaporator in compliance with this article, the regional board shall,
as appropriate, revise or rescind any waste discharge requirements
or other requirements imposed on the operator of the facility
pursuant to Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 25208) or Section
13260 or 13263 of the Water Code.
(a) A person operating a solar evaporator pursuant to a
valid notice of authority to operate shall, consistent with
subdivision (f) of Section 25209.12, manage the collection and
removal of evaporite salt from the solar evaporator as described in
the plan prepared pursuant to paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of
(b) If the regional board subsequently determines that accumulated
salt needs to be collected and removed from a solar evaporator at a
time, or in a manner, that differs from the plan prepared pursuant to
paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of Section 25209.13, the regional
board shall notify the operator in writing and describe the reasons
for its determination.
(c) An operator of a solar evaporator who receives a notice
pursuant to subdivision (b) may appeal the determination of the
regional board. The appeal shall include a response, prepared by an
independent registered professional civil engineer or agricultural
engineer, to the findings in the notice.
Within 30 days of an action or failure to act by a
regional board pursuant to this article, an aggrieved person may
petition the state board to review that action or failure to act. The
petition and all other rules and procedures governing the petition
shall be the same as in Section 13320 of the Water Code.