RBOC Call to Action - May 9 & 10 Newport Beach Copper Workshops

RBOC is urging Orange County boaters to attend one or both public workshops on Thursday, May 9 and Friday, May 10 in Newport Beach and to provide comments to prevent new copper reduction programs that will mandate boat paint conversions, hull cleaning best management practices, hull cleaning certification programs and education programs.

Key Points for Boater Public Comments:

No toxicity has ever been found to be associated with copper in the last 8 years in Lower Newport Bay. The City engaged in studies to measure the presence of toxicity associated with elevated copper concentrations.

Significant management actions taken by the State that will lower dissolved copper in the Bay. The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) adopted new regulations that began July 1, 2018 and will be in full effect by July 2020.

The new regulations put limits on copper concentrations in anti-fouling paints that are expected to reduce dissolved copper concentrations by 30% after about five years as boats convert to the new copper paints over time.

 Copper sources outside the bay are expected to be reduced through the brake pad initiative.

In 2010, SB 346 was adopted, and required the reformulation of brake pads to reduce their copper content which is believed to contribute about 50% of the copper in urban runoff. That reduction in copper loading from the watershed is expected to be effective within the next five years.

The regional board needs to work with the state to develop paint formulations that provide the needed anti-fouling while meeting standards, in the event that the copper concentrations in the State approved paints create an environmental concern. Boat paints are regulated by the state. The City, County or other agencies do not control the decision of an individual boat owner in the selection of legal copper based paints. The State has invested significantly in the two copper reduction initiatives mentioned above.

Boaters urge the regional board to postpone the basin plan amendment and to have the State examine the effectiveness of the current reduction efforts over the next five years prior to requiring further actions that may not be necessary.

May 9, 2019

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Marina Park Community Center – Event Room, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92663

May 10, 2019

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Newport Beach Central Library – Friends Room, 1000 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92660

Unable to attend \ Want to Ensure Your Comments are Received?

Email them to the regional board: to Linda Candelaria, PhD at RB8.CuTMDL@Waterboards.ca.gov

Links to References:

Details on the May 9 and 10 workshops

City of Newport Beach Fact Sheet

RBOC August 2018 public comments

Call-to-Action: Contact Regional Board re Copper in Newport Bay

Boaters are encouraged to take action to protect the use of copper-based anti-fouling paints on the hulls of their boats in Newport Bay.

CLICK HERE to use our new Online CALL to ACTION to electronically submit your letter or contact the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board and send this message below:

I urge that the board delay a revised total maximum daily load [TMDL] for copper that would impact the use of copper-based anti-fouling paints on boat hulls in Newport Bay until the following essential actions take place:

  • A site specific study of Newport Bay has been conducted. This will provide detailed information that is accurate and can serve as the basis for informed scientific decisions.

  • The USEPA approves the Biotic Ligand Model [BLM] for determining copper toxicity in salt water.  This approval is forthcoming and would facilitate accurate site-specific information regarding Newport Bay.

  • Alternatives to copper-based anti-fouling paints are available, affordable and effective. It is critical that recreational vessels have anti-fouling surfaces on their hulls for effective operation and prevention of invasive species.

Based on statements made at the July 28 scoping meeting held by the regional board, there is a significant absence of accurate information regarding Newport Bay, boats in the bay, and copper paint alternatives. 

The requested actions are essential to provide the information that will inform decisions that will protect the environment and preserve recreational boating.


The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board is developing a draft revised total maximum daily load [TMDL] for copper in order to reduce the amount of copper released from boat hulls in Newport Bay.

The TMDL could impact the ability of boaters to use copper-based anti-fouling surfaces on the hulls of their boats.

The Board may release a proposed TMDL in the very near future, in the form of a basin plan amendment.

RBOC is working with local boaters, clubs and organizations.