COMMENT DEADLINE Aug. 30: Vineyard runoff – water that isn’t clean

PLEASE encourage others to send letters also.  During a recent public meeting our voices were outnumbered 30 – 1.  We need to be louder.

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, 5550 Skylane Blvd, Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403-1072

Submit via email to:

Hi there,
I’m quite sure you are busy, but this one has long lasting implications.  Even if we have abundant water – it isn’t much good if it isn’t clean.  Runoff from vineyards can include silt – plus anything that was used on the vines or on the soils to encourage productive plants and/or discourage pests, mold or other impacts to the vines.

As you may have heard by now, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is working to draft a Waste Discharge permit for vineyard properties. The primary focus of this permit is to address the prolific issue of sediment and nutrient runoff coming from vineyard properties and entering our sensitive water habitats and streams. Waters in the North Coast Region have been negatively impacted and impaired by sediment and nutrient loads for decades now, putting many “beneficial uses” at risk. Uses including drinking water, recreation, and the needs of our most sensitive salmonid species. 
A sample letter is included below to make the most of your time, and simplify the process.  This should take you 5 minutes.  A minor investment for the future of our shared water resource.
The vineyard industry is working to weaken this draft permit so that they can continue business as usual risking our shared water resources. Vineyards throughout our region have participated in various voluntary programs for years now and want the Regional Board to rule that these programs are sufficient to protect water quality when they have not always been adequate. Our waters continue to be impaired despite these programs and there has been no monitoring or reporting to otherwise support/document their claims. There are certainly vineyard properties doing everything right, but they are a minority. 
Vineyards need to do their part to help protect our water resources and we are asking the Regional Board to strengthen their draft permit to ensure that happens. We ask that you help join us in these efforts by submitting written comments to the Regional Board – and are attaching a short template letter for you to use to make it easy. In our template, we specifically call on the Regional Board to ensure:
  1. All vineyards are required to sample and monitor for all turbidity coming off their properties.
  2. All vineyards are required to report their monitoring results to the Regional Board without aggregation or anonymity.
  3. All vineyards are required to respond to sample exceedances with actual, effective adaptive management measures to ensure progress towards water quality goals are achieved.
  4. That the permitting program utilizes interim benchmarks to help measure progress towards water quality goals and ensure timely implementation of necessary mitigation measures.  
  5. The permitting program is implemented in a timely manner such that water quality improvements are actually achieved and not further delayed for years.
  6. The permitting program is enforceable for any violation of terms, and there are actual consequences for failure to implement measures that are necessary to protect water health.
We believe these standards must be required if we want our waters to be protected from degradation. Please join us – and share your own stories of what you have witnessed and/or how you’ve been impacted by vineyard practices in our waterways.  Send photos if you have them.  In this instance – we are all experts.  We have seen first hand the impacts of runoff.

PLEASE encourage others to send letters also.  During a recent public meeting our voices were outnumbered 30 – 1.  We need to be louder.

Thank you very much.  Really … clean water is basic to life.


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