California leads the nation as a top agricultural producer – but the cost to our drinking water and environment is huge.
Over-application of fertilizer on farms is the biggest source of pollution to our groundwater supplies. Records show that the vast majority of farms egregiously over-apply fertilizer. According to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Board”), over half the nitrogen applied as fertilizer ends up as harmful pollution to the environment. Currently, farms discharge nitrogen at levels ten times higher than levels that are safe for drinking water and protective of the environment. The Regional Board has issued findings that “groundwater nitrate (fertilizer) contamination is widespread and severe, and degradation is increasing in many areas.” Nitrates leaching from fields into aquifers have left over 100,000 square miles of groundwater contaminated with nitrates throughout California, resulting in toxic drinking water supplies.
Nitrogen pollution from fertilizers is also harmful to ecosystems. Nitrogen pollution in streams, wetlands, and the ocean can fuel toxic algal blooms, which can make swimming unsafe, poison marine life, and shut down entire fisheries.
To address this detrimental overuse of fertilizers on farms, the Regional Board is proposing to set new limits for fertilizer application. These new limits would require farmers to apply only as much fertilizer as their crops actually need.
To support clean water, and to help tackle the State’s biggest water pollution problem, please sign our petition to support fertilizer application limits for farms.