Why do we have the Coalitions today?

The Tule Basin Water Quality Coalition (TBWQC) was formed to help growers comply with the waste discharge requirements (WDRs) from irrigated lands, also known as the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP), that could affect the quality of ground and/or surface waters of the state in the most economical and efficient manner possible.

The purpose of the TBWQC is to allow growers to enroll in a third-party group fulfill the requirements and conditions of the Waste Discharge Requirements set by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board for General Order No. R5-2013-0120, modified by R5-2013-0143 and later revised by R5-2013-0120-07.  Alternatively, growers are given the option to obtain an individual WDRs under Order R5-2013-0100, separate from joining a third-party group.

The TBWQC was created as a special project of the Deer Creek and Tule River Authority (DCTRA). The DCTRA has been the member agency that participated in the South San Joaquin Valley Water Quality Coalition as the representative of the Tule River sub-watershed and is familiar with the Waiver requirements for the surface water monitoring program previously implemented. The DCTRA provides leadership and the Board for the TBWQC but provides no financial assistance; all expenses of the TBWQC are paid for the TBWQC members.

The boundary of the TBWQC covers the southern portion of Tulare County and a small portion of the Delano Earlimart Irrigation District that is within Kern County.

The TBWQC filed a Notice of Applicability to be the Third Party and was approved by the Regional Water Quality Control Board on February 4, 2014.

General Order Program – Background & Overview

On September 19, 2013, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) adopted new waste discharge requirements, with the latest revisions taking place in February 2019, to protect ground and surface water from irrigated agricultural discharges for the Tulare Lake Basin area. Growers who irrigate agricultural lands for commercial purposes within the Tulare Lake Basin area must either join the Coalition if their property is within (map link here) or obtain coverage individually.

Requirements of Members part of the TBWQC can be found within General Order No. R5-2013-0120, and its revisions, and requirements that are common to a majority of members are briefly described below.

Tule Lake Basin General Order

Click the link above to access a copy of the General Order for the TBWQC

Individual Order

Click the link above to access a copy of the General Order for Individuals that decide not to join a coalition (r5-2013-0100)

ILRP Website

This state waterboard website provides additional background information and resources.

Do I need to be in the Program?


Do you have….

  • Irrigated Lands?
  • Land used for commercial purposes?

If you have both Irrigated lands and used for commercial purposes, then the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) requires you to act.


Tule Basin Water Quality Coalition is a Third-Party to represent you, and help you comply with the Regional Water Board requirements. The Coalition provides customer service to ensure members are aware and complying to requirements set by the General Order of the ILRP.


Joining the TBWQC is voluntary, if the Coalition isn’t the best option for you, we suggest you consider the following options:

  • Looking to handle State Regulatory requirements personally?
    • Apply for an individual Waste Discharge Permit from the Water Board (Click Here)
  • Don’t irrigate your lands with no future plans to irrigate?
    • Notify the Water Board that you do not Irrigate for commercial Purposes
  • Already complying with the terms of other General Orders such as the Dairy General Order?
    • Notify the Water Board or the Coalition that you are covered under a different Waste Discharge Permit


Failure to obtain regulatory coverage will result in the Central Valley Water Board assessing an administrative civil liability against you. Administrative civil liability can run as high as $1,000 per day for every day of violation. Our staff is available to assist you in obtaining the proper regulatory coverage. Or, you can contact Irrigated Lands staff by email at irrlands@waterboards.ca.gov, or by phone at (916) 464-4611.


We will assist you in the process of signing up and will work to answer any questions you may have.


New 2020-2021 Fiscal Year costs are as follows:

  • $4.00 per Irrigated acre
  • $0.00 per fallow or non-irrigated acres
  • $100 Participation Fee

Each year, landowners can adjust and update irrigated acres to reflect your farming practice for future year.


Board of Directors

Board includes the members of the Irrigation Districts

Gary Fernandes, Dir
Lower Tule River Irrigation District

Brent Doyle, Dir
Terra Bella Irrigation District

Robert D McCloskey, Dir
Saucelito Irrigation District

David E Gisler, Dir
Porterville Irrigation District

Neal Westbrook, Dir
Pixley Irrigation District

Dave Sherwood, Dir
Tea Pot Dome Water District

Dyson Schneider, Dir
Vandalia Water District

Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee meets Monthly on the second Friday

Sean Geivet
TBWQC board member rep.

Vincent Sola, Jr.
Landowner rep.

Dyson Schneider
Landowner rep.

Keith Norris
TBWQC Board Rep.

Philip Shepard
Landowner rep.

Technical Committee

Technical Committee meets Monthly on the second Friday

David De Groot
TBWQC Coordinator & Technical Lead

Matt Razor

Alexis Meneses
Grower Outreach and Education

John Dickey
SSJP MPEP Coordinator

R.L. Schafer
TBWQC Technical Advisor

Don Tucker

Michael Tharp
Field Monitoring

Michelle Parker

Kelsey Leyendekker
Grower Outreach and Education

Mike Kenny
Field Monitoring


What is a Coalition?

A group of agricultural interests and growers formed to represent all “dischargers” who own or operate irrigated lands in the Tule Basin region. See this map for the coalition boundaries.

Tulare Lake Basin Area has about 3,000,000 acres of irrigated cropland that is regulated by the Regional Water Quality Control Board as of September 19, 2013.

I am frustrated and do not want to sign up, what are the consequences?

Call the Regulators for more information about potential consequences – 559‐488‐4396.

Other Coalitions Example: (East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition).

    • Range in Fines for Growers who ignored new General Order: $1,500 ‐ $9,000

As of 3 June 2014, your obtainment of regulatory coverage is 342 days overdue. The maximum penalty for the violation described above is three hundred forty‐two thousand dollars ($342,000) based on a calculation of the total number of per‐day violations times the statutory maximum penalty (342 total days of violation multiplied by $1,000). The Assistant Executive Officer of the Central Valley Water Board intends to issue a Complaint seeking an administrative civil liability assessment against you in the amount of two thousand eight hundred eighty dollars ($2,880) for this violation. This recommended penalty amount is based on information contained in the Central Valley Water Board’s files and takes into account the factors set forth in the State Water Resources Control Board’s Water Quality Enforcement Policy, including your culpability, cleanup and cooperation, history of violations, ability to pay and continue in business, and other factors as justice may require.

Is this a program on groundwater pumping?

Water Quality, not Supply

Are you a discharger?

The Regional Water Quality Control Board has stated that if you irrigate crops for commercial purposes, you are a potential discharger and subject to this new law.

  • Includes Nurseries and privately and publicly-managed wetlands.
  • Includes any type of irrigation system.
  • Includes Commercial crops that are not yet marketable (i.e. vineyards and tree crops).


  • Does not apply to non‐irrigated rangelands or other permanent non‐irrigated lands (i.e. fallow fields)
  • Does not apply to lands covered by other General Orders, such as dairies or individual discharge permits (e.g. food processors)
Benefits of joining the coalition
  • Have a middle person between you (grower) and Regulators (like your accountant to IRS) to prepare reports.
  • Third Party provides Outreach and education.
  • Grower can comply with Regulatory Requirements more economically than doing it individually.
  • Provided grower templates (Nitrogen Management Plan, Farm Evaluation, Sediment & Erosion Control Plan)
Grower Requirements
  • Maintain a copy of the General Order at your place of business (digital or hard copy) and be familiar with its contents.
  • Participate in member outreach events (Minimum of 1 per year).
  • Cooperate in requested assistance for groundwater quality monitoring (testing from ag wells).
  • Assistance in development of management plans for water quality exceedances
  • Implement industry best management practices that are protective of surface and groundwater quality for a crop type
  • Maintain annual Third‐Party membership
  • Complete Farm Evaluation Plan
  • Complete Nitrogen Management Plan
  • Complete Sediment and Erosion Control Plan (if applicable)
What are the Coalition’s goals?
  • File required reports with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) to provide conditional waiver coverage for members of the coalition.
  • Develop and implement an economical and scientifically valid water monitoring program for area rivers and agricultural drains (as required by the waiver).
  • Spread costs equitably among farm land owners/operators who are coalition members.
  • Communicate to landowners where water monitoring indicates problems and work to solve those problems.
What work has the Coalition already completed?
  • Formed an organization with a Board of Directors and Technical Committee.
  • Submitted a Notice of Applicability application to the Regional Board for acceptance as a Third Party, received approval on February 4, 2014.
  • Held numerous meetings to inform growers of the new regulations.
  • Completed the conditional waiver “deliverable” due …
  • Create reports for the
  • Notify members of requirements due.
  • Provided customer services for landowners with membership and template questions.
How do land owners/operators join the Coalition?

You can join by completing the form online (coming soon) and paying your initial assessment or by downloading the application and mailing in your signed application and initial assessment (New Member Application).

What are the member dues and what will the membership dues be spent on?

The cost for the 2016-2017 fiscal year is $4/acre plus a $100 administration fee, which includes paying the State Water Resources Control Board Fee of $0.75/acre.

The Coalition is responsible to complete

  • Surface Water Monitoring Reports and sampling.
  • Legal fees to obtain non-profit (IRS Code 501 (3)(c)) status for the coalition.
  • Groundwater Quality Reports and sampling.
  • Public outreach, management plans, and help establish best management practices for different crops and irrigation practices.
What if you don’t join the Coalition?

You must file a Notice on Intent with the Regional Board to participate in the conditional waiver as an individual. The cost for filing as an individual discharger can be considerable. The California Farm Bureau Federation estimates start up costs and monitoring for an individual waiver at $10,000 for the first year and $3000 to $6000 annually thereafter for monitoring and reporting.

Who is managing the Coalition?

A Board of Directors made up of Board Members from the local irrigation districts (see full list here).

An Advisory Committee to handle day‐to‐day items made up of some Board Members and At‐Large Landowners

The Coalition is a Special Project of the Deer Creek and Tule River Joint Powers Authority

Who is responsible for making the Coalition successful?

The individual members of the coalition. Failure of the coalition to meet deadlines, develop the proper monitoring programs or work to correct water quality problems would mean that individual land owners would be responsible for fulfilling those requirements. While Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and CURES representatives signed the notice of intent for the coalition, it is the coalition participants who are ultimately responsible for participating in coalition activities and paying their fair share of all costs to carry out the conditional waiver program.

What are the Coalition’s expenses?

The Coalition is responsible to complete Surface Water Monitoring Reports and sampling, Groundwater Quality Reports and sampling, public outreach, management plans, and help establish best management practices for different crops and irrigation practices. The cost for the TBWQC from 2014-2015 was $5/acre. Starting in 2016 the cost decreased to $4/acre.

The cost includes paying the State Water Resources Control Board Fee of $0.75/acre.

What other commitments are involved in joining the coalition?

Land owner participants must agree to allow Regional Board staff, upon reasonable notification, access onto their property to determine compliance with the conditions of the waiver. Individuals are free to withdraw from the coalition at any time and obtain an individual waiver from the Regional Board.

Can I join any coalition?
  • No – Your parcel must be within the geographic boundary of the Third-Party
  • You may have multiple parcels, each belonging to a different Third-Party
Is the coalition a branch of the Water Board?
  • No – just like your accountant is not a branch of the IRS.
  • Third-Party Groups/Coalitions represent growers (like a co-op).
I received a letter from the Water Board and I do not farm this land it has never been farmed?

Note on the Water Board form that this land is “Not Farmed – Not Irrigated” and return to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, 1685 E Street, Fresno, CA 93706. Replying directly on the Water Board form will provide the Water Board with your Tracking Number and Parcel Numbers. Keep a copy for your records, and sign and date the form.

I am not irrigating any of my land this year but plan to in the next few years, do I need to join now?
  • Yes, the sooner you enroll, the less amount of back fees that will be to due at the time of joining the coalition.  Fees accumulate for each year you are not signed up. The Coalition can no longer accept new members without direct approval from RWQCB.
  • If you are not irrigating this year, but plan to in the future, you can join now and enroll your parcel, stating zero acres irrigated. Your fee due will only be the $100 administration fee each year until you start farming.
Do I report APN Acres or Irrigated Acres?
  • Report Irrigated acres within each parcel
  • Not your house, shed, roads, etc.
  • NOTE: You only pay a fee to the Coalition based on the Irrigated Acres
Is joining a colaition mandatory?

No- joining is voluntary, but compliance with the General Order is mandatory.

Is this a tax or program on groundwater pumping?

No: Water Quality, not supply.

I received an invoice/notice for land I sold, now what?
  • Notify the Third-Party.
  • Provide the Third-Party contact information.
  • Forward documents to the new owner.
I’m in the process of purchasing additional farmland, what do I do?
  • Notify the Water Board & Third-Party.
  • Make sure the parcel is covered in the program for the coverage period, if not then sign it up.
I paid two coalitions for the same parcel, now what?

Ask for a refund or a returned check from the incorrect Third-Party.

Will my data be kept confidential?
  • Yes somewhat – water quality data is reported to the Water Board in a Township basis (36² miles).
  • Unclear on future reporting.
Which coalition is my land on?
  • Check your parcel at the sign-up stations.
  • Borderline parcels can be tricky, please contact us for assistance
  • We have found some errors in the process and will be sure to assist you.
What are my options if I don’t join a coalition?
  • 1) You can obtain coverage under the General Waste Discharge Requirements for individual Growers.
  • 2) You can obtain an Individual Permit.
  • 3) Not Join or Obtain Individual coverage, subject to $1000/day fines.