Program aids farmers and ranchers to reduce polluted runoff

Farmers and ranchers in Los Osos and Chorro valleys can receive help in managing their operations to reduce runoff from their lands that can pollute the Morro Bay National Estuary.

The Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District offers the services of an engineer to update farm and ranch plans, providing recommendations and design practices aimed at improving water and fertilizer efficiency, storm water management and grazing practices.

“The RCD’s agricultural water quality program is tailored to the individual grower or rancher’s needs and may include cost share funds to implement priority projects,” said G.W. Bates, district engineer.

The program, which will continue through 2015, is supported by a $400,000 grant from the State Water Resources Control Board.

In 2013, the program funded installation of nearly 18,000 feet of fence on two ranches, evaluated three irrigation systems, designed water management practices and provided two years of surface water quality sampling.

This year, the emphasis will be on reducing erosion from farm roads.

Sedimentation and runoff tainted by bacteria and other pollutants from agriculture are among the environmental problems facing the Morro Bay estuary. The Morro Bay National Estuary Program supports the program through stream water quality data collection.

The estuary watershed consists of approximately 48,000 acres surrounding Morro Bay, reaching as far inland as Cuesta College and the California Men’s Colony prison.

More information on the program can be obtained by calling 772-4391 or by visiting www.coastalrcd.org.