Prevent Nitrate Pollution in California Groundwater

Target: California State Water Resources Control Board

Goal: Protect groundwater in small communities by enforcing tax on agricultural fertilizer

The California State Water Resources Control Board is considering imposing a tax on commercial fertilizer and giving the revenue acquired to communities affected by groundwater nitrate contamination. The Water Control Board identified nitrate from agricultural fertilizers as the most common synthetic contaminate in California waterways. Research shows that 220,000 people in California have been exposed to nitrate, which has been linked to cancer, birth defects, and thyroid disease. Small communities that cannot afford water treatment are the most at risk.

Based on a report issued by University of California Davis, fertilizer nitrates have washed into the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley aquifers for the last five decades. This will likely continue to cause water pollution for many years. The report calls a tax on fertilizer “the most promising revenue source” to combat this issue, especially when it is earmarked for small, rural communities. This method is more practical and feasible than the extremely costly alternative, which is to strip extensive nitrate pollution from existing groundwater basins.

Hopefully, this tax on synthetic nitrate fertilizer will encourage commercial farmers to adopt alternative means for adding nitrogen to their soil. Compost humus from deteriorated plant and food waste is an organic alternative to commercial nitrate fertilizer.

Ask the California Water Control Board to proceed with the tax on commercial fertilizers and protect low­ income, rural communities from water contamination.


Dear California State Water Resources Control Board,

We ask that you proceed with plans to tax commercial fertilizers containing nitrate, which is the largest source of synthetic groundwater pollution in California communities. The communities most adversely affected by nitrate pollution are poor and rural, making government intervention even more essential.

Organic alternatives have always existed for synthetic fertilizers, and supporting those alternatives in turn wins the support of organic farmers throughout the state, who proliferate in California more than anywhere else in the nation.

Please heed the University of California Davis groundwater report, which called a tax on nitrate fertilizers “the most promising revenue source” to help communities affected by groundwater pollution.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: David Clark via

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