What is Agricultural Water
“Agricultural Water means water used in covered activities on covered produce where water is intended to, or is likely to, contact covered produce or food contact surfaces, including water used in growing activities (including irrigation water applied using direct water application methods, water used for preparing crop sprays, and water used for growing sprouts) and in harvesting, packing, and holding activities (including water used for washing or cooling harvested produce and water used for preventing dehydration of covered produce).” – FSMA PSR Subpart E Definition
What are the Agricultural Water Requirements?
The water quality requirements in the FSMA PSR apply to farms that 1) are covered by the rule and 2) that use water in direct contact with the harvestable part of the covered crop or food contact surfaces. Growers must meet microbial water quality criteria standards based on quality, source, and use. Microbial water quality is determined through testing for generic Escherichia coli using an approved method that provides a quantitative value. The requirement for agricultural water for harvest and post-harvest activities is no detectable generic E. coli in 100 mL of water. The pre-harvest agriculture water requirements are under review, but farms should test to determine water quality prior to use and take corrective measures where necessary while awaiting the final regulatory requirements. See the resources below to understand quality, source, and use requirements. Further, growers are required to inspect their agricultural water systems at least once a year, and to maintain their water sources and water distribution systems.
On July 18, 2022, the FDA issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the compliance dates for the pre-harvest agricultural water provisions as outlined in the recent 2021 agricultural water proposed rule, https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-proposed-rule-agricultural-water. This update did not include substantive changes to the harvest and post-harvest agricultural water requirements and FDA intends to continue enforcement discretion. Produce growers, subject to the rule, should follow harvest and post-harvest agricultural water requirements by the following dates based on farm size and adjusted for inflation:
The FDA is reviewing the 2021 agricultural water proposed rule, if finalized, will require farms to conduct annual systems-based agricultural water assessments to determine and guide appropriate measures to minimize potential risks associated with pre-harvest agricultural water. The FDA is now proposing extended compliance dates for those proposed pre-harvest requirements and is also providing clarifying information about the enforcement discretion policy for the harvest and post-harvest agricultural water requirements. The supplemental rulemaking proposes to establish the following compliance dates for the pre-harvest agricultural water requirements for covered produce other than sprouts:
- 2 years and 9 months after the effective date of a final rule for very small businesses;
- 1 year and 9 months after the effective date of a final rule for small businesses; and
- 9 months after the effective date of a final rule for all other businesses.
Microbial Water Quality Profile
What is a Microbial Water Quality Profile?
A Microbial Water Quality Profile (MWQP) is a long-term management strategy for farmers to understand the quality of water on their farms and how it may change over time. Establishing an MWQP helps farmers assess the microbial quality of a water source and its suitability for intended uses.
How do you create a Microbial Water Quality Profile?
This webpage provides information and step-by-step infosheets to help you assess, test and evaluate the quality of water on your farm. Please contact one of our specialists if you have additional questions on establishing an MWQP.
Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration is revisiting the requirements in Subpart E of the PSR. This subpart has not been finalized and is subject to change.
MWQP: The Basics
Introductory overview of a Microbial Water Quality Profile
Agricultural Water Sources
Determine the classification of your water source
Agricultural Water Use
Define your water use and associated risks
MWQP: When to Start
Microbial Water Quality Profile important dates
MWQP: How-to Guide
How to create a Microbial Water Quality Profile
MWQP: Collecting Samples
Step-by-step instructions on how to properly collect water samples
MWQP: Alternative Lab Methods
List of detection methods to request from the lab
MWQP: Labs for AR Growers
List of labs accessible for Arkansas growers
MWQP: Interpreting Lab Results
Understand your water test results and create your MWQP