Business

Tuesday, Nov 27 2012 06:00 PM

Worth noting in business: Farm bureau urges public comments

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

The Kern County Farm Bureau is "strongly" urging every agricultural producer in the county to attend and possibly testify at a hearing Friday in Bakersfield where state water quality officials plan to consider new irrigation discharge regulations.

According to email sent Tuesday by the bureau, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's proposed Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program would force farmers to prepare annual nutrient budgets with certified crop advisers, among other measures. The email likens the proposal to a separate order it says costs farmers $118.55 per acre yearly.

"This is a game changer," bureau Executive Director Ben McFarland said in an interview.

Friday's meeting is intended to gather public comment on a set of requirements aimed at protecting surface water and groundwater from waste discharged from irrigated property. As it stands, discharge rules apply to surface water but not groundwater.

A board executive said that although the requirements would not directly affect Kern farmers, similar rules are expected to be adopted here later.

McFarland said the proposed rules are not based on sound science, and so the bureau expects to have experts on hand Friday speaking to Kern's unique geology.

The board is not expected to vote on the requirements Friday, and staff comments are being kept to a minimum.

The meeting is set to begin at 8 a.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel, 3100 Camino Del Rio Court. A vote on some of new requirements is scheduled for Dec. 7 in Rancho Cordova.

A new analysis suggests that over the next five years the Bakersfield-Delano area will grow faster, on a percentage basis, than any other metropolitan center in the state.

The study released Tuesday by Pitney Bowes Software projects the area's growth through 2017 at 6.4 percent, an increase of 16,463 households. The report said the state's second fastest-growing metropolis, on a percentage basis, will be the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles area, with 5.1 percent growth, or 5,258 households, over the next five years.

But in terms of absolute growth -- that is, total population added -- the analysis said California's fastest-growing metro area will be the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area, with 64,545 households, or 4.9 percent. By that measure, the Bakersfield-Delano area ranked seventh in the state, which was second among Central Valley metropolitans, after the Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville area.

A landfill eight miles west of Buttonwillow hopes to receive government approval Thursday to modify its plans for sealing five waste ponds that until 1996 accepted nonhazardous oil field liquids.

The landfill's operator, Clean Harbors Buttonwillow LLC, proposes to cover the ponds with a three-foot-thick vegetated soil cover above a foundation one foot thick.

A staff report by the agency reviewing the proposal, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, states that the proposal exceeds the agency's minimum requirements. It goes on to say that this "evapo-transpirative" design would provide protection that is equivalent to the more conventional cover previously approved by the board.

A representative of Clean Harbors said two of the five ponds are full to capacity and awaiting design approval, while the remaining three won't be ready for capping until 2018.

The board has scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. at Buttonwillow Recreation and Parks, 556 Milo Ave. A vote on the revised pond cover plans is expected to take place after the hearing.

Bakersfield-based liquid handling company Rain for Rent has won an award from one of its suppliers, Nebraska-based Reinke Manufacturing Co. Inc.

At a recent convention, Reinke gave Rain for Rent a Gold Reinke Pride. A total of 107 Reinke dealerships won gold, silver or bronze awards.

Reinke, a maker of mechanized irrigation systems, said the honors are given out according to the dealership's housekeeping and maintenance, displays, safety, retail environment, merchandising, professionalism, promotions and market share.

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