Resource Conservation Districts and Integrated Planning
Resource Conservation Districts ("RCDs") are special districts created by California law. There are currently 98 RCDs statewide. RCDs have broad power under California law to help address water quality challenges. In addition, RCDs have long-standing connections to the agricultural community and know how best to communicate with that community. Some RCDs have successfully used their broad powers and connections to assist in implementing mitigation requirements under the Clean Water Act section 404 and 401 programs. RCDs could play a similar role in working with municipalities to develop, fund and implement a watershed-based, integrated planning approach to addressing water quality challenges, particularly ones involving the urban/ag interface. Understanding RCDs and working with them could be an important way for municipalities to help address the complex problems associated with urban/ag issues such as pesticides and nutrients.
This panel will address the potential role that RCDs might play in a watershed-based, integrated planning approach. The panel will consist of representatives of both RCDs and municipalities. The panel will first provide an overview of RCDs and their powers and will then provide concrete examples of the potential role RCDs might play in a watershed-based, integrated approach.
For example, the panel will discuss the join effort involving the City of Santa Maria and its local RCD to develop, fund and implement a nutrient treatment project in the City. This project will treat nutirent laden agricultural runoff that enters the City's MS4 system. The project is funded through an RCD obtained grant but will be developed by the City and is an important part of the City's pending Integrated Plan. The project could also serve as a springboard for further collaboration and education between the City and its agricultural community.
This panel also offers an important opportunity to connect CASQA with RCDs in a way that will foster dialogue and the potential for future interactions. The panel will include the Executive Director of the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, who is interested in working with CASQA to help educate its members about water quality issues. It is hoped that a similar presentation will be made at the RCD association's annual conference to help reinforce the connection between the groups.