The Ag Order

The Central Coast Region’s Agricultural Order (Ag Order) regulates water that is discharged from agricultural operations under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act of 1969, which states that California will regulate water to the highest quality that is reasonable to preserve it for the use and enjoyment of the people.  To improve water quality from agricultural runoff and infiltration, the Ag Order requires that growers comply with several conditions such as developing and implementing a Farm Plan, water quality monitoring of surface and ground water, and enrolling in the Order.  Ag Order 3.0 was adopted in March 2017. It includes a tiered system with increasing regulatory requirements based on perceived relative risk of operations to water quality.

Tier 1
• NO chlorpyrifos or diazinon applied,
• NO impaired surface water or public drinking water well, AND
• If nitrogen loading crop, must be less than 50 acres.
• OR Certified Sustainable-In-Practice (SIP).

Tier 2
• Chlorpyrifos or diazinon applied,
• Impaired surface water or public drinking water well, OR
• If nitrogen loading crop, between 50 – 500 acres.

Tier 3
• Chlorpyrifos or diazinon applied, and discharge to impaired surface water; OR
• If nitrogen loading crop, greater than or equal to 500 acres.

The regulatory requirements for each tier can be found on the CCRWQCB website at
Reporting Requirement for Each Tier

Changes in Ag Order 3.0:
Basic changes to the Ag Order adopted in 2017 are summarized:
1) The reporting deadline for annual reports was changed to to March 1, 2018 (and annually thereafter) including the Annual Compliance form, TNA, irrigation and nutrient management plans and buffer plans.
2) Completion of the Total Nitrogen Applied (TNA) report is required for Tier 2 & Tier 3 farms where high risk crops are grown on any portion of the farm.
3) Groundwater monitoring is required of all growers two times in 2017.
4) Pesticide monitoring was changed to include neonicitinoids and toxicity tests to include test organisms sensitive to this class of pesticide.

Sources of Help:
Resources to help with nutrient management including soil nitrate quicktest procedures
Information, forms, and resources at the Regional Board Website
General Background and History