Third-party programs OK for Napa, Sonoma vineyard erosion compliance, say regulators

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Questions about the rule

For details on Order No. R2-2017-0033, contact these staff members of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board:

Mike Napolitano, 510-622-2397, michael.napolitano@waterboards.ca.gov

James Ponton, 510-622-2492, James.Ponton@waterboards.ca.gov

It's what winegrape growers in Napa and Sonoma valleys have been seeking for several years. San Francisco Bay Area water-quality regulators have approved four popular sustainability programs that, if followed, would meet satisfy new erosion-control rules for vineyards.

On Jan. 12, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer Bruce Wolfe OK'd these third-party programs for compliance with the requirements of the general permit for vineyard properties:

• California Land Stewardship Institute (Fish Friendly Farming program)

• California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance

• Napa County Resource Conservation District (LandSmart program)

• Sonoma Resource Conservation District (LandSmart)

The primary compliance role for approved programs are to assist farmers with development of farm plans required under the permit and to verify the plans are complete, the board said. Then when the plans are fully implementation, program operators will verify achievement of performance standards specified under the general permit.

Program staff also help with enrollment, monitoring and reporting, and securing any necessary permits to implement compliance projects or actions.

"The Fish Friendly Farming program through voluntary collaborative work has already prepared and certified farm plans for 50,000 acres in the permit area and has another 25,000 acres with plans ready to certified this year," said Laurel Marcus, executive director of California Land Stewardship Institute. "These vineyard owners have little else they will have to do to be in compliance with this new regulation, so the industry is pretty far ahead in already complying with the regulation."

If nothing had been done, it will cost $500-$3,500 to enroll in Fish Friendly Farming and prepare the maps and farm plan. The grower also has to complete one section, which the staff will help with. The cost depends on the size of the site.

National Marine Fisheries Service, county agricultural commissioners, Napa Green and 100% Sustainable Sonoma marketing recognize Fish Friendly Farming certification.

California Land Stewardship Institute had a meeting Jan. 16 for winegrape growers on the new permit and Fish Friendly Farming's role in compliance. Another such meeting is set for 9 a.m. Friday at Culinary Institute of America at Copia in Napa.

Questions about the rule

For details on Order No. R2-2017-0033, contact these staff members of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board:

Mike Napolitano, 510-622-2397, michael.napolitano@waterboards.ca.gov

James Ponton, 510-622-2492, James.Ponton@waterboards.ca.gov

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