The California State Water Resources Control Board submitted to the state Legislature last week recommendations on reducing nitrates in the water in the San Joaquin and Salinas valleys.

The water board offered 15 recommendations in its 73-page report, but one of the recommendations has farmers and others in the agriculture industry bristling. One recommendation is to set a point-of-sale fee on the purchase of nitrogen fertilizers.

The board’s report cited the findings of a 2012 UC Davis study on ground-water contamination stating that “a nitrogen fertilizer fee could compensate affected small communities for mitigation expenses and effects of nitrate pollution.”

Although the board has not set a specific amount for the fee, many do not like the idea of a new fee.

“I think it’s bad because they’re just charging more money for more bureaucracy,” Tom Barcellos, a farmer, told “We’re just an easy target because everybody can point and say there is agriculture here in the Valley and agriculture is the problem.”

Clean water advocates like the new proposal, saying that the new fee would help generate revenue for communities to ensure access to drinking water.