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California dairies are leaders in monitoring, managing, and protecting groundwater resources and operate under the most-comprehensive and stringent water quality regulations in the nation. California dairy families have greatly improved protection of shared water resources, and have invested more than $20 million annually in water quality improvements since 2007.

Through using a Nutrient Management Plan, California dairy farmers ensure a balanced application of organic fertilizer, while protecting groundwater supplies.

Through using a Waste Management Plan, California dairy farmers ensure manure is safely stored until timely use as an organic fertilizer. 

Extensive testing of soil, irrigation water, manure, and plant tissue ensure farmers have accurate information to guide their decisions.

Innovative ideas and technologies allow California's dairy farm families to continue to protect of our state's water resources, as part of their environmental stewardship.

California dairy farms protect water quality


Water quality is tested regularly on California dairies
Designated water monitoring and testing well on Central Valley dairy farm

Regulatory requirements in California’s Central Valley—where 91 percent of the state’s dairy cows are located—include annual testing of irrigation and domestic wells. In addition to the requirement to test all existing wells, dairies also participate in the Central Valley Dairy Representative Monitoring Program (CVDRMP), a first-of-its-kind, voluntary effort to evaluate dairy farm management practices and develop recommendations for future improvements.

Established in 2010, the CVDRMP is a non-profit group, organized by Central Valley dairy farmers who work with expert advisory committees, which include hydro-geologists and civil engineers. These experts ensure that data and findings are accurate and provide value to dairies, their neighbors, and regulators. The CVDRMP’s network of designated monitoring wells is a valuable asset for farmers, providing valuable data for improved groundwater protection and reducing regulatory costs.

  • More than 1,100 farms pay monthly fees to support ongoing monitoring and research to inform improved management practices.

  • The program includes 443 wells on 42 dairies from Orland south to Bakersfield, encompassing the wide range of soil, climate and cropping conditions across Central Valley dairies.

  • Wells are monitored monthly, and a quarterly analysis is conducted for nine constituents, including nitrate. Twenty-two compounds are tested annually.

  • Monthly, quarterly and annual testing provides more than 16,000 raw data points each year.

  • All results are reported to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and used to inform farm management best practices.

You can contact CVDRMP at

Dairy Cares
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