If you do your boating out of Marina del Rey, you should be aware that (because voluntary measures to reduce copper in that waterway have failed) the state is going to implement a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan. TMDLs are regulatory plans authorized by the Clean Water Act to address impaired water bodies. In California, the State and Regional Water Boards have the authority and responsibility to adopt and implement TMDLs. TMDLs are planning documents which are implemented through permits and other regulatory mechanisms. Read below the public notice:
Protecting Marina del Rey Harbor by Reducing Copper
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, a state agency, is tasked with protecting and improving water quality in the Los Angeles area. We are seeking cooperation from boaters in Marina del Rey Harbor to work towards improving water quality in the harbor so that we can protect this important resource that we all value.
Copper is used in antifouling paints to prevent marine organisms from attaching to boat hulls. This copper also makes its way into the water where it can negatively affect other organisms, causing gill and nervous system damage in fish, and mortality in invertebrates that make up the base of the food chain. The concentrations of copper in the waters in Marina del Rey Harbor are at levels harmful to organisms living in the harbor. In order to protect aquatic life and activities that depend on a healthy aquatic ecosystem (such as recreation, wildlife habitat, and sport fishing) the amount of copper entering Marina del Rey Harbor needs to be reduced.
A draft regulatory plan to reduce the amount of copper in Marina del Rey Harbor is currently available for public comment. In this plan, called a TMDL, Regional Board staff is recommending reducing the amount of copper released from boat hulls in order to protect the natural habitat and recreational uses, such as sport fishing, in the harbor.
Copper pollution in the water is not isolated to Marina del Rey Harbor. Two marinas in Southern California already have similar TMDLs in place to reduce copper in the water: Shelter Island Yacht Basin in San Diego and Newport Bay in Orange County. Implementation of these regulatory plans has already begun.
The proposed plan allots 11 years to reduce copper discharge from boats by 85%. This plan is one step in a process to gradually reduce copper in the harbor waters. The plan can be amended based on new findings and good-faith efforts towards improving water quality.
Proposed Implementation Options
Options for reducing copper discharge from boats include switching from copper-based to non-toxic antifouling paints, use of slip liners, and use of less-abrasive hull cleaning techniques. The Regional Board is working with the paint industry to supply boaters with effective options and pursuing public funding to subsidize paint conversions.
Some Information on Alternative Antifouling Strategies
Copper Reduction Program, Port of San Diego:
Copper Reduction Program - Port of San Diego
More information on alternative hull paint options:
TMDLs must go through a lengthy approval process before they become effective. The Draft Marina del Rey Toxic Pollutants TMDL is currently available for public comment. Elevated copper in the water is only one portion of the TMDL, which also addresses urban runoff and sediment impairments in Marina del Rey Harbor. Written comments are due to the Regional Board by December 20, 2013. The Regional Board will then hold a public meeting to consider the matter on February 6, 2014.
“Citizens Guide to Working With the California Water Boards”
Technical information regarding the TMDL and submitting comments
To receive updates regarding TMDLs for the Marina del Rey Watershed, please visit the following website: State Water Resources Control Board
For additional information, please contact the Regional Board at