RBOC Opposing California WaterFix, Citing Negative Impact on Boating

RBOC has adopted a position in opposition to the proposed WaterFix project, a massive construction project that could seriously impact boaters’ access to the Delta for years to come.

“RBOC has, for decades, been at the forefront of opposing proposals that would impair the ability of boaters to access to the 1,000 miles of waterways in the Delta,” said Peter Robertson, president of the organization.  “We successfully opposed permanent barriers that would have blocked navigation to popular Delta destinations.  We have supported legislation that would increase funds for fighting invasive species such as the water hyacinth,” stated Robertson.

According to RBOC, the proposed WaterFix project is the latest threat to boating in the Delta.  The project, which could take 14 years or more to complete, involves digging huge, 47-mile long tunnels under the Delta to facilitate movement of water.  During construction, major waterways and tributaries could be closed to recreational boaters.

At an August 1 meeting of its Board of Directors, RBOC identified specific, boater-related concerns with the Notice of Determination (NOD) for the California WaterFix environmental analysis.  These include:

  • The significant, negative impact that will occur with the closure of waterways to navigation during the lengthy construction period.
  • The absence of a plan to ensure that the Delta infrastructure will not only be preserved, but improved.

  • The lack of surety that the plan will address the threat that climate change and increased water transfer pose to the amount and quality of water in the Delta.

“We are encouraging the state to consider other sources of water such as increased storage and desalination,” stated Robertson.

RBOC Works to Protect Boating, Files Concerns with California WaterFix EIR/EIS

RBOC has filed its concerns with the negative impact that the California WaterFIx would have on the ability of recreational boaters to navigate and recreate in the Sacramento—San Joaquin Delta.  Of particular note:

1. There has been insufficient time to review the responses to RBOC and other comments that were submitted as far back as 2013.

RBOC is therefore urging that the public comment deadline on the 2016 Final BDCP/California WaterFix EIR/EIS be extended.

Based on our initial review of the responses to RBOC’s comments, our organization believes that many responses are insufficient, ambiguous and/or unresponsive.

2.    As discussed in the 2016 Final BDCP/California WaterFix EIR/EIS, the California WaterFix would severely restrict navigable waterways during construction of the twin tunnels.

This is contrary to the California State Constitution, Article 10, Section 4 of which provides that “No individual, partnership, or corporation, claiming or possessing the frontage or tidal lands of a harbor, bay, inlet, estuary, or other navigable water in this State, shall be permitted to exclude the right of way to such water whenever it is required for any public purpose, nor to destroy or obstruct the free navigation of such water; and the Legislature shall enact such laws as will give the most liberal construction to this provision, so that access to the navigable waters of this State shall be always attainable for the people thereof.”

3.  The planned temporary closure of significant recreational waterways including Twin Sloughs and Mildred Island are unacceptable, unmitigated and unconstitutional.

RBOC's concerns have been filed within the public comments on the 2016 Final BDCP/California WaterFix EIR/EIS. This is in addition to extensive comments that RBOC has submitted within this proceding in an effort to protect the ability of recreational boaters to navigate and recreate in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. 

RBOC Opposing Santa Ana Regional Water Board's Copper Plan

RBOC is opposing the copper implementation plan proposed by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region that would significantly impact the ability of recreational boaters in the area to utilize copper-based anti-fouling paints.

RBOC's concerns have been submitted to the regional board through formal comments regarding the proposed Basin Plan Amendments to Incorporate Total Maximum Daily Loads for Copper and Non-TMDL Action Plans for Other Metals in Newport Bay.

RBOC wil also be testifying at the public hearing the regional board will hold on October 28.

This issue is important to boating. From recreational boats in the water for a season to commercial ships that are in the water year round, antifouling paint on the underwater part of the boat is fundamental to the proper maintenance and performance of almost all watercraft. The uncontrolled growth of marine organisms on boats significantly degrades performance, increases fuel consumption, contributes to the spread of aquatic invasive species and can even lead to a vessel sinking in extreme cases.

Many antifouling paints contain cuprous oxide, a form of copper, as the licensed pesticide that is their primary active ingredient. These antifouling paints, approved by the USEPA, are designed for the copper to gradually leach into the water from the boat. Paints containing copper are currently the most effective, affordable and available antifouling products for all vessels, including recreational boats.

With regard to the proposed basin plan amendments, RBOC endorses and concurs with the comments of the City of Newport Beach:

1. The Copper TMDL unlawfully attempts to force local agencies to ban copper anti-fouling paint.

The Copper TMDL is unlawful because: (1) It explicitly relies on an implementation plan that requires local agencies to take actions the Legislature has prohibited; and (2) The Regional Board purports to usurp the authority of the Department of Pesticide Regulation to govern the use of copper anti-fouling paint.

The Legislature states that the City does not have the legal authority to ban copper paint, and that any action by the City would be “void and of no force or effect.” Local governments cannot regulate the use of pesticides in Food and Agriculture Code Section 11501.1, subdivision (a).

The Legislature has plainly granted exclusive authority to DPR to regulate the use of pesticides such as copper anti-fouling paint.

It would be arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law to end-run that process to compel local governments to regulate the use of registered pesticides in a manner contrary to DPR’s legislative judgment. There is a 1997 Management Agency Agreement between DPR and the State Water Resources Control Board that includes an established dispute resolution process in place to address conflicts between the two state agencies.

2. The Copper TMDL is unlawful because alternatives to copper anti-fouling paint are not effective or available.

Alternative paints are not widely commercially available, do not have a track record of being effective and are not affordable. The only alternative paints with any degree of effectiveness are not recommended by US EPA’s technical contractor because they present serious environmental hazards.

3. The margin of safety is too large and is unsupported.

The Copper TMDL is improperly and artificially lowered because the Regional Board proposes a margin of safety that is unreasonably large. The Regional Water Board’s staff report does not include any explanation of why such a large margin of safety is appropriate, and none is apparent. There is no justification to add a margin of safety amounting to one fifth of the TMDL on top of all the other conservative assumptions especially when the observed “impairment” is alleged, and isolated technical exceedances of the chronic water quality criterion have no observed toxicity.

4. The phased implementation schedule is unreasonable, unsupported and would force early investments that may be unnecessary.

The 20% reduction by the end of year 3, 50% by the end of year 7, and 83% reduction by the end of year 15 is unreasonable, unsupported and unlawful because it is too short and fails to allow time at the beginning to address the many problems with the TMDL and its implementation.

The Regional Board concludes that “voluntary compliance in Newport Bay [would be] difficult” given that neither the Regional Board nor any of the entities regulated by the TMDL may legally restrict the use of copper anti-fouling paint. The City submits that it will likely take considerable time for this vague plan to work, and the Regional Board’s failure to allow for such time in its implementation schedule is improper. Similarly, it would be wasteful and unnecessarily costly and controversial to develop site-specific objectives while at the same time being held to early and high percentage decreases.

And lastly, with the lack of available and affordable copper anti-fouling paint alternatives on the market today, it is irrational to adopt a schedule that does not allow the proposed new market to respond and develop.

5. The Copper TMDL imposes unfunded state mandates that the State must reimburse under the California Constitution.

Though the regional boards and the State Water Resources Control Board commonly argue that their programs are exempt from the reimbursement program under Government Code 17513, the Copper TMDL would represent a discretionary decision by the state to impose requirements beyond those mandated by federal law. This would be a “true choice” by the state to impose the mandate, and subvention will be required.

6. It is improper to promulgate a TMDL for an entire bay when only certain areas of water bodies within the bay may even be arguably impaired.

7. The Substitute Environmental Document (SED) fails to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Prior to approving the proposed TDMLs, the Regional Board must comply with CEQA and its guidelines. The SED is inadequate since its analysis of impacts uses an invalid “baseline” which generally consists of the environmental conditions that exist at the time of environmental review. It is legal error to determine significance of impacts in comparison with a non-existent hypothetically “permitted” action.

Further, the SED’s impact analysis is flawed because it fails to properly account for, or analyze, the foreseeable significant impact of its program. In fact, the Washington State Department of Ecology has concluded that there are no currently available non-toxic alternatives to copper anti-fouling paints. The SED must be revised to address the likelihood that a reasonably foreseeable implementation of the Copper TMDL will involve application of toxic anti-fouling paint, and to analyze the environmental impacts of applying those paints. Additionally, the SED is invalid for failing to analyze a reasonable range of alternatives, and it does not include an economic factors analysis.

8. The data sources in the staff report are older than 10 years, and were collected prior to significant dredging activities that recently occurred in the Upper and Lower Bay.

9. The vessel count used in the calculations is significantly different than the actual, verified number of 4,470 vessels in Newport Harbor.

In addition, RBOC objects to the provision of the basin plan amendment that would specifically identify boaters as dischargers responsible to reduce copper loads and correct sediment impairment. This will impose significant, costly and burdensome requirements on individual boat owners in the implementation of the basin plan amendment.

 

State Proceeding with One Temporary Drought Emergency Delta Barrier for 2015 - Info for Boaters

As the state Department of Water Resources [DWR] moves forward in 2015 with plans to install one emergency, temporary rock barrier across West False River Slough in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, RBOC continues to engage with the state and is working to inform boaters so they can plan accordingly.

DWR hopes to begin installation of the emergency, temporary barrier on May 8 and to remove it this November.

  • For the DWR notice to boaters with map and information: click here
  • For the DWR press release: click here

RBOC acknowledges and appreciates the dire drought situation - now in its fourth year - that challenges all Californians, and appreciates the need for significant action as called for in the Governor’s April 1 executive order. 

The installation of a temporary rock barrier across West False River Slough is intended to preserve a fresh-water Delta and to sustain the Delta's ecosystem as a supply for drinking water.

Balancing the preservation of recreational opportunities in the Delta while preserving its ecosystem and as a state fresh-water supply is a worthy endeavor.

As boaters find their favorite lakes and reservoirs increasingly being closed to boating because of low water caused by the continuing drought, many will turn to the Delta as a new and enjoyable destination and RBOC stands ready to address their needs for access to boating waterways.

RBOC will continue to be engaged as this action is taken.

RBOC Urges that Boater Concerns with Emergency Drought Barriers be Resolved

RBOC is urging the state Department of Water Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers to address boater concerns with the Emergency Drought Barriers proposed for the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta.

This project consists of three temporary rock barriers that would be installed, a single barrier at three locations, in the north and central Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta (Delta): Sutter Slough, Steamboat Slough, and West False River.

RBOC appreciates and understands the critical need to protect water quality and water supply in the Delta. As the state and federal governments identify and take actions in order to accomplish this objective, there must be an open and transparent process, clear science-based criteria for actions that are taken, the engagement and participation of stakeholders and beneficiaries, and the protection of the environment and endangered species.

Based on statements made in public workshops, it is not clear at this point that each of these will occur. It appears that an informal group of unnamed individuals within several governmental entities will make decisions within the proposed project on whether and when barriers will be installed and removed, without public notice or involvement, without a clear set of criteria, and without assurances regarding the protection of the environment or endangered species.

It also appears that funding sources for the installation and removal of the barriers within the proposed project have already been identified, targeting one special fund source for the removal rather than a funding structure that involves the participation of the many stakeholders that will benefit from the project.

The proposed project will restrict or prohibit navigation on established waterways in the Delta. The single boat passage within the proposed project will only assist vessels up to 24 feet long and up to 10,000 pounds. A significant number of boaters will be effectively prohibited from navigating through important and popular Delta regions.  The duration the proposed barriers may remain in place is poorly defined and as a consequence may violate the "Public Trust" doctrine regarding navigable waterways. This could require the State to install and maintain the operation of locks on a continual basis.

It is the policy of RBOC to advocate to protect the rights of recreational boaters to assure access for continued navigation by recreational boats on the waters of the Delta wherever any control structure (such as, but not limited to gates or barriers whether temporary or permanent) is planned for placement across a navigable Delta waterway. In these instances, RBOC seeks assurances that as any changes are contemplated which further alter Delta navigable waterways that alternatives are identified and implemented to the satisfaction of RBOC that will best preserve and sustain recreational boat passage at each location.

Consistent with this policy, RBOC seeks to have operable boat locks installed as an integral design component to mitigate for the placement of any control structure across any navigable Delta waterway. All control structures and boat locks or other alternatives satisfactory to RBOC for recreational boat passage are to be installed, maintained and operated without cost or expense to recreational boaters.

Drought Causes State to Look At Possible Emergency Salinity Control Barriers in the Delta

RBOC is engaged and is reviewing the impact a new state drought plan may have on boating in the Delta.

The state Department of Water Resources [DWR] has announced that it may be necessary to install emergency salinity control barriers across three channels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta if the weather stays exceedingly dry through spring.

According to DWR, in order to prepare for worst-case drought conditions, and after an extensive environmental analysis and more than nine months of discussion with Delta residents and local water district managers, DWR is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow for the temporary installation of rock barriers at intervals over the next 10 years when saltwater threatens deep intrusion into the Delta.

Also according to DWR, the emergency drought barriers would limit saltwater intrusion, minimizing the amount of water that must be released from upstream reservoirs to repel the salt. Too much saltwater too deep in the Delta can contaminate water supplies for Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara county residents, Delta residents and the 25 million Californians who rely on the Delta-based federal and state water projects.

Here is the link to the Initial Study/Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration document for the Emergency Drought Barriers Project:  click here

Of particular note to boating are the discussions on pages 182 and 183 of this pdf [3-120 and 3-121]:

"Less-than-Significant Impact. The EDB, which could be present from early May to November 15 up to three times in 10 years and potentially in successive years, would restrict recreational boat thru-traffic in Sutter Slough and West False River. Signs would be posted at both entrances to Sutter Slough, informing boaters of the closure and that Steamboat Slough would provide boat passage only for vessels up to 24 feet long and up to 10,000 pounds. Signs also would be posted at both entrances to West False River, informing boaters of the closure and availability of alternative routes (e.g., Fisherman’s Cut or False River east for vessel traffic between the South Delta and the San Joaquin River; and the mainstem San Joaquin River for vessel traffic between Antioch and the eastern Delta).

"Steamboat Slough is navigable by both commercial and recreational traffic, and boat transfer ramps on each side of the emergency drought barrier at this project site would be provided on the east side of the channel. As described in Chapter 2, “Project Description,” two 12-foot-wide gravel roads would be constructed to provide connectivity with Grand Island Road. A State-provided boat tender with a pickup truck and trailer would be present on the apron during daytime hours. When a boat approached, the trailer would be backed into the water, the boat would be placed on the trailer, and it would be driven to the boat ramp on the other side, where it would be placed back in the river. The south ramp would be approximately 90 feet long, and the north ramp would be approximately 120 feet long. Dock anchors (comparable to mooring lines) would be used to stabilize the boat ramps. (The site-specific environmental impacts associated with construction of the two gravel access roads and the boat ramps on either side of the Steamboat Slough rock barrier are evaluated in each relevant topic area in Chapter 3, “Environmental Checklist.”)

"As discussed in Chapter 2, “Project Description,” navigational markers would be used to prevent boaters from entering the immediate construction area, and speed limits would be posted. Safe vessel passage procedures would be coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard District 11 and California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Division of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating). An educational program would be offered to inform boaters about the purpose of the project and the expected duration of proposed project activities. The program would include notices in local newspapers and boater publications as appropriate; notices also would be posted at local marinas and boat launches, in the Local Notice to Mariners, and on the proposed project website. Operation of the EDB at all three project sites could occur from early May to November 15 up to three times in 10 years, including potentially in successive years. After the barriers are removed in November, full recreational boat access would resume in each waterway.

"The proposed project would not have a substantial adverse effect on recreation because public notices would be posted, temporary boat transfer ramps would be provided to facilitate navigation, alternate routes would be available, and the proposed project would be a limited size and of short duration. Therefore, the impact would be less than significant."

December 15 Town Hall Meeting on Delta Invasive Species

Boaters are encouraged to attend the Town Hall Meeting that will be held by Senator Cathleen Galgiani on Monday, December 15 to discuss the invasive weeds of the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta.

Senator Galgiani will be moderating a panel comprised of representatives of the state Division of Boating and Waterways, California Delta Chambers & Visitor's Bureau, Port of Stockton, USDA and NASA.

Details:

Invasive Weeds of the Delta Town Hall Meeting

Monday, December 15, 2014

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm

State Building Auditorium, 31 East Channel Street, Stockton, CA 95202

Contact: Marian Norris, 209.948.7930; marian.norris@sen.ca.gov

RBOC continues to urge boaters to take action by contacting their elected representatives, urging them to take emergency action to address the infestation of invasive water hyacinth that is blocking waterways in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with devastating impacts on boating recreation as well as marine-related businesses.

Information and resources are posted here: click here

 

 

State Water Board Approves Marina Del Rey Copper TMDL with Assurances

The State Water Resources Control Board today approved the proposed amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Los Angeles Region with a revision to the total maximum daily load for toxic pollutants in Marina del Rey Harbor including copper.

As approved, the copper TMDL resolution includes several key assurances that:

  • The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board [LARWQCB] is committed to working with interested stakeholders and to reconsider the TMDL in response to studies in MDR Harbor and other pertinent information.

  • The LARWQCB will review progress on TMDL implementation at regular intervals.

  • The LARWQCB will consider revisions as appropriate or necessary to the load allocations, waste load allocations, and \ or compliance deadlines within 18 months of receipt of studies or other pertinent information.

  • The TMDL is not self-implementing. During the development of the subsequent regulatory action the LARWQCB will establish requirements specific and appropriate to each individual, entity, or group of individuals to achieve the pollutant allocations.

  • The assignment of pollutant allocations in a TMDL does not, in itself, impose any liability or other legal obligations on those named as responsible parties.

  • The LARWQCB will consider revisions to the existing dissolved copper water quality objective and corresponding TMDL numeric targets that are developed using the biotic ligand model [BLM] if it is approved by the US EPA for use in marine waters.

  • The LARWQCB is committed to coordinating with the State Lands Commission to address invasive species relative to anti-fouling strategies.

The amendment will next be considered by the state Office of Administrative Law [OAL] as well as the US EPA.

Several stakeholder groups testified at the hearing. Testifying on behalf of RBOC were Vice President Greg Gibeson, Director Walt Vance and Director of Government Affairs Jerry Desmond, Jr.

Boaters Urged to Attend Water Board Hearing on Copper - Tuesday, September 9 in Sacramento

RBOC is urging boaters to attend a hearing of the State Water Resources Control Board [SWRCB] in Sacramento on Tuesday September 9 and speak against a proposed amendment to the Marina del Rey water quality control plan that would negatively impact boaters in that area and would be detrimental to boaters state-wide.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 – 9:00 a.m.

Joe Serna, Jr. - Cal/EPA Headquarters Building

Coastal Hearing Room

1001 I Street, Second Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814

www.Waterboards.ca.gov

Agenda Item #7 is the proposed Resolution approving an amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Los Angeles Region to revise a total maximum daily load for toxic pollutants in Marina del Rey Harbor.

This is a proposed change to the water quality control plan for Marina del Rey to address copper pollution in the harbor. The proposed amendment is based on a resolution or Total Maximum Daily Load [TMDL] adopted by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board [LARWQCB] in February of this year. It revises the allowable amount of toxic pollutants in the harbor.

Public comments on agenda items will be limited to 5 minutes or otherwise at the discretion of the Board Chair.

RBOC has been working on this issue, together with local recreational boaters and the boating industry, since the Los Angeles regional board considered this amendment earlier this year.  RBOC is urging that the state board:

  • Delay implementation or approval of copper TMDLs in any salt water bodies in California until a number of key actions occur.

  • Reject the proposed amendment to the Los Angeles Regional Basin Plan to revise the TMDLs for Marina del Rey Toxic Pollutants.

The detailed RBOC position is set forth in detail below.

It can happen in Marina del Rey and it could happen to boaters in many other parts of the state.

Marina del Rey boaters have only used State approved copper based paint products on their boats and now the Board is telling them that they have a choice to make: Register for a $1,094 Waste Discharge Permit, pay $8,000 or more to strip and paint their boats, incur more than double the amount of cleaning costs, incur compliance costs, be named a “Responsible Party” for pollutants, risk litigation, and put their property into legal jeopardy --- or, leave the Marina so they won’t be subject to these onerous burdens and legal jeopardy.

The issue - Local regional water quality control boards are taking action to implement copper TMDLs in impaired water bodies in California. This occurred first in Shelter Island Yacht Basin in San Diego. Earlier this year, this occurred in Marina del Rey. Next up could be Newport Beach, and others are anticipated.

In each of these situations, a good deal of misunderstanding surrounds the topic of copper-based anti-fouling paint. Some regional water quality control boards, following the requirements of the Clean Water Act, have started to implement measures that seek to reduce the amount of copper in the water.

The target has been recreational boaters and the reliance upon copper-based anti-fouling paint.

The real problem, however, is that the current federal standard is overly protective and that, in fact, the copper in the water of our marinas is not in any way toxic to benthic organisms.

RBOC Position:

1. Delay Implementation of TMDLs in Salt Water

RBOC urges the State Water Resources Control Board to delay implementation or approval of copper Total Maximum Daily Loads [TMDLs] in any salt water bodies in California and to reject the proposed amendment until the following occur:

  • Allow divers to implement best management practices - on hull cleaning as per the state report issued pursuant to AB 425 (Atkins, Chapter 587, Statutes of 2013). It appears to date that implementing best management practices on hull cleaning has had a mitigating effect on copper in the water and there needs to be time to further review the effect.

  • Allow time for the USEPA to approve the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) - for determining copper toxicity in salt water. It is believed this approval is forthcoming shortly and therefore there would be accurate site specific information available to the Regional and State Water Boards in determining appropriate implementation methods needed, if any.

  • Allow the paint manufacturers to develop copper paints with lower leach rates - also pursuant to AB 425 (Atkins).  Effective and affordable paints with lower leach rates are in the foreseeable future.

2. Reject Proposed Marina del Rey Basin Plan Amendment

Given the enormous cost to the State of California, Counties, Cities and boaters in implementing the revised copper TMDLs, and considering that the above factors may mitigate the need for TMDLs to be necessary at all, this request is reasonable and should be granted by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Board’s Notice Fails The Due Process Test

Although boaters may have been on the mailing list to receive notice of the proposed TMDL, many don’t recall seeing it and certainly would not have realized the importance of the notice because it referenced only “technical changes” to the TMDL.  There was never any warning in the notice about the onerous burdens that would be placed on boaters, such as naming them as “Responsible Parties” and thus liable for copper pollution in the Marina.

By failing to ensure that affected parties were adequately and timely notified, the Board denied stakeholders the right to be heard.  This is a fundamental denial of due process and it denied boaters, anchorages and other interested parties with the opportunity to provide meaningful input in the development of the TMDL Amendment. 

This Regulation puts the Marina del Rey Community in Jeopardy

Litigation is rampant in California.  We all know that, and boaters do not want to be part of an environmental lawsuit because the Board unilaterally says that I’m the “Responsible Party” just because they keep a boat in Marina del Rey.  Questions of liability should be established by an impartial judge, not a regulatory agency in the context of a TMDL Amendment.   

Boaters in Marina del Rey have only used State approved copper based paint products on their boats and now the Board is telling them that they have a choice to make:  Register for a $1,094 Waste Discharge Permit, pay $8,000 or more to strip and paint their boats, incur more than double the amount of cleaning costs, incur compliance costs, be named a “Responsible Party” for pollutants, risk litigation, and put their property into legal jeopardy --- or, leave the Marina so they won’t be subject to these onerous burdens and legal jeopardy. 

The Board says that its “unlikely” for boaters to leave Marina del Rey because of the new regulation.  Would boaters seriously consider leaving the Marina or selling their boat under these circumstances?  Absolutely. 

Invasive Species 

The Regional Board failed to do a meaningful site specific environmental analysis of the increase in invasive species that will result from eliminating copper bio-cide paints.  The Board stated that “adverse environmental effects are acceptable” including the “increased growth of fouling organisms and invasive species” as a result of using non-copper based paints.  Copper biocides have worked well over the decades to reduce the transport of invasive species.  Eliminating this protection could have disastrous consequences.  Non copper paints will foster the growth of biofilms on hulls, which harbor harmful bacteria and carbon, and which cause increased drag, resulting in the burning of more fuel and discharge of more emissions into the marina.  This, plus the dredging the Regional Board wants could seriously threaten the delicate ecosystem of our marina, create new, unknown risks and outweigh the potential benefit from banning copper paint.

The Board’s Economic Analysis Is Wrong

Based on personal knowledge of many boaters, boats are stripped every 20-40 years in Marina del Rey...  and not the 7-10 years stated by the Board.  We don’t know where they got that number, but it’s wrong.

In many cases, boaters are not planning to strip their boats for another 20+ years, well beyond the 10 year compliance period.  But under the Amendment, boaters are facing paint stripping costs, a doubling of cleaning costs, the registration of a Waste Discharge Permit at a current cost of $1,094, potential compliance, enforcement and legal challenges.  The Board’s Economic Analysis was prepared by someone who clearly doesn’t understand boating in Marina del Rey, or the potential costs of this ill-advised regulation.

The Board’s Actions Are Illegal

What’s troubling to boaters is that an unelected, unaccountable board is undertaking to mandate new regulations, name “responsible parties” in a TMDL and create for itself the ability to order remedial action, require permits, impose fines on citizens, harm our local economy and effectively take away our property. 

The Board is misusing its power to impose an unfair regulation that is more costly, more burdensome, and much harsher than what was approved for San Diego’s Shelter Island. 

The Board has no authority to name “Responsible Parties” in a TMDL.  Its actions are outside the law and not authorized by statute or case law.   If this Board can ignore the people, the law, economics, science and common sense, what’s next?

The State Water Control Board should reject the TMDL Amendment. 

Sept 9 & 10 Hearing on Proposed Marina del Rey Copper TMDL

The State Water Resources Control Board has released the agenda for its September 9 & 10 meeting in Sacramento, and the agenda includes consideration of the proposed Resolution approving an amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Los Angeles Region to revise a total maximum daily load for toxic pollutants in Marina del Rey Harbor.

RBOC has submitted comments to the State Water Resources Control Board, urging that the state board:

  1. Delay implementation or approval of copper total maximum daily loads [TMDLs] in any salt water bodies in California until a number of key actions occur; and
  2. Reject the proposed amendment to the Los Angeles Regional Basin Plan to revise the TMDLs for Marina del Rey Toxic Pollutants.

 

RBOC Submits BDCP Comments Stressing Plan's Boating Impacts, Urging Mitigation

RE:   Bay Delta Conservation Plan

RBOC has submitted substantive comments on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, stressing the plan's adverse impacts on recreational boating and urging full mitigation.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP or Delta Plan or plan) is a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and a Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) developed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Natural Resources Agency. The plan proposes to dramatically and forever alter the flow and level of water through existing Delta waterways. The plan proposes to address this through a host of different proposed alternative measures and actions. The purpose of the plan being to endeavor to mitigate a host of existing endangered species impacts caused by the existing operational practice of exporting Delta water to other locations in California.

RBOC has monitored the BDCP planning process, representatives of RBOC have attended innumerable meetings, and RBOC has submitted comment letters since July of 2006 when the current plan commenced.

 RBOC reiterated the previous comments we have submitted including our September 24, 2013 correspondence expressing concerns to each entity that was preparing a joint EIR/EIS for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) based upon the currently available draft Consultant Administrative Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) / Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Those comments were attached and incorporated by reference.

The BDCP with a companion Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Study (EIR/EIS) of upwards of 40,000 pages were released by the State of California for review on December 13, 2013 with a 120-day comment period ending June 13, 2014 [and subsequently extended to July 29, 2014].

It is evident to RBOC from review of the BDCP that implementation of the proposed actions and measures set forth in the plan and EIR/EIS will result in major short-term and long-term alternations and impacts to existing Delta waterways utilized by all types and sizes of recreational boats. Depending upon which actions and measures are implemented, there will be adverse impacts that constrain and in many instances even prohibit recreational boaters accessing and utilizing existing Delta waterways. This includes not only adverse impacts during the estimated decade-long construction period but thereafter as well depending upon which action measures and/or alternatives or segments of any are implemented at any time.

The plan in many ways results in irreversible changes to the Delta itself as well as to access and enjoyment of Delta waterways relevant to recreational boating and marinas and boat ramps visited by boaters and the general public. Unless mitigated to RBOC’s satisfaction, the actions by BDCP and EIR/EIS to modify any waterway is opposed by RBOC.

The BDCP needs to fully mitigate-for and to guarantee assurances-of reliable access to all Delta waterways proposed to be altered in any manner under the plan. This must include, for example, constructing boat locks wherever Delta waterways are proposed to have any barriers or gates – whether short-term or long-term - and that all boat locks be constructed and operated at no cost or charge to recreational boaters.

RBOC’s position is based upon the fact that the burden of producing a comprehensible HCP under federal law, supporting analysis and funding rests not on recreational boaters that navigate Delta waterways but that it is an obligation that rests solely upon the BDCP project proponents. The BDCP and EIR/EIS also are intended to serve as a NCCP under California law. In this regard, again RBOC asserts its objections to the BDCP and EIR/EIS as the plan fails to meet the provisions of NCCP.

Further concerns of RBOC that are not mitigated include, but are not limited to:

  • The BDCP states that it will need authorizations of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA) to perform many of its proposed actions to alter existing Delta waterways. The RHA requires authorization from Congress or the California state Legislature, and in addition to that of the U.S. Corps of Engineers in certain cases. The BDCP is defective as it does not specify when or how such authorization will occur and leaves to speculation whether it can attain necessary authorizations and permits for what it proposes to construct (in as much as the plan has such a wide variety of alternative measures and actions with no known specificity of outcomes).
  • The BDCP’s effects on Delta flows and water levels: Changes in Delta flow and water levels as proposed in the plan have the potential to have a very significant and highly negative impact upon boats, marinas and boat ramps and other access point to the waters of the Delta. No analysis appears to exist in the BDCP or EIR/EIS as to operational impacts and the mitigations for having altered and reduced Delta water levels. Thus no analysis exists as to the severity this impact will have upon recreational boating, marinas and other water-based recreational uses of the Delta. Also, it is clear that if there are reduced water levels in the Delta this will also – from time to time - occur and have negative impact upon marinas and boats and access points along the Sacramento River and American River.

 

 

 

RBOC Urges Water Board to Deny Marina Del Rey Copper Plan

RBOC has submitted comments to the State Water Resources Control Board, urging that the state board:

  1. Delay implementation or approval of copper total maximum daily loads [TMDLs] in any salt water bodies in California until a number of key actions occur; and
  2. Reject the proposed amendment to the Los Angeles Regional Basin Plan to revise the TMDLs for Marina del Rey Toxic Pollutants.

For the entire RBOC submittal: click here

RBOC Supporting Federal Bills to Designate Delta National Heritage Area

RBOC in conjunction with our federal government relations partners at BoatUS is supporting pending federal legislation S.228 (Feinstein) and H.R. 1004 (Garamendi) – The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Establishment Act. This legislation would designate the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as the first National Heritage Area (NHA) in the State of California.

RBOC representatives had been involved in the public process to develop the Delta Protection Commission’s NHA Feasibility Study and applaud the Commission for the extensive public involvement and engagement efforts which had been undertaken.

RBOC firmly believes that this project is closely aligned with our principles to protect and enhance the recreation and boating interests of California including the Delta. What impresses us most about this project is the commitment to establish a federal recognition of the Delta due to its assemblage of cultural and historical resources.

NHA designation has the potential to help gain visibility to the role the Delta has served in the nation by being an important location for water based recreation, dating back to the Gold Rush era in the 1850s. A Delta NHA can also link recreational and historic sites of the Delta, utilizing the waterways as corridors.

Recreational Boaters of California gives full support for the NHA designation and looks forward to future collaborative planning and implementation.

State Announces Delta Barriers Not Needed At This Time

The state Department of Water Resources [DWR] announced on April 18 that, due to the late spring storms, there is no longer a need for the proposed rock barriers across waterways in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that were of concern to RBOC and the boating community.

In its announcement, DWR acknowledges that the proposed barriers would have impacted boating and recreation in the Delta.  

RBOC Requesting Public Hearing on Proposed Delta Drought Barriers

RBOC is greatly concerned about the negative impacts the emergency drought barriers being planned for three sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will have on the boating community and economy, and is urging the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a public hearing on the proposal prior to its approval.

A public hearing would provide an essential opportunity to discuss concerns as soon as possible and prior to the announced construction in early May of this year.

The emergency drought barriers would be three rock dams constructed across Steamboat Slough, Sutter Slough and False River. RBOC’s concerns are that:

· There has not been a direct and serious engagement with the boating community in advance of a decision to proceed with the three barriers

· The three barriers would block key Delta waterways that are popular with boaters, during the prime boating season of May through December.

· The plan to accommodate boaters with boat ramps on the Steamboat Slough barrier is insufficient, as many boats navigating the slough exceed the under-twenty-two-foot limitation for the ramp and boat portage.

· The drought conditions have diminished significantly since the period of time when the plan was developed to proceed with the emergency drought barriers, calling into question the need for emergency barriers.

· There is no commitment to remove the barriers in November of 2014 as announced.

· If the state plans to retain the barriers, it is critical that operable boat locks be installed as an integral design component to provide boaters with the uninhibited ability to navigate in those waterways.

RBOC respectfully requests that an opportunity be provided for a meaningful dialogue with the boating community through a public hearing to discuss the plan, its impacts, and actions that can be taken to preserve free navigation. 

RBOC Taking Action on Proposed Delta Drought Barriers

RBOC is greatly concerned about the negative impacts the emergency drought barriers being planned for three sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will have on the boating community and economy.

The emergency drought barriers would be three rock dams constructed across Steamboat Slough, Sutter Slough and False River, and could be in place in early May of this year.

RBOC is expressing concerns to the California Natural Resources Agency, Department of Water Resources, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Boating and Waterways,  the US Coast Guard and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Concerns are that:

  • There has not been a direct and serious engagement with the boating community in advance of a decision to proceed with the three barriers
  • The three barriers would block key Delta waterways that are popular with boaters, during the prime boating season of May through December.
  • The plan to accommodate boaters with boat ramps on the Steamboat Slough barrier is insufficient, as many boats navigating the slough exceed the under-twenty-two-foot limitation for the ramp and boat portage.
  • The draught conditions have diminished significantly since the period of time when the plan was developed to proceed with the emergency drought barriers, calling into question the need for emergency barriers.
  • There is no commitment to remove the barriers in November of 2014 as announced.
  • If the state plans to retain the barriers, it is critical that operable boat locks be installed as an integral design component to provide boaters with the uninhibited ability to navigate in those waterways.

RBOC is requesting a meaningful dialogue with the boating community to discuss the plan, its impacts, and actions that can be taken to preserve free navigation in the Delta.

 

State Proposes Barriers Across Delta Sloughs

The State Department of Water Resources has announced its plans to place temporary barriers across specific sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in an effort to prevent further salinity intrusion up-stream due to the drought. Provisions are proposed to transport some boats around the barriers. For more information including maps: click here

RBOC Reviewing New Delta Documents for Boating Impacts

RBOC is reviewing the Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and associated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) that were released for public review earlier this month, in order to respond to any impacts the updated plan would have on recreational boating in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

With the previous draft, RBOC expressed great concern with specific proposals that would negatively impact recreational boaters’ access to existing Delta waterways and which would upset the delicate balance that enables the Delta to be a vigorous recreational opportunity of statewide and national significance. These impacts were not adequately addressed by either mitigations or other plans set forth in the draft. Negative impacts would occur in the immediate construction phase, as well as in the post-construction phase.

In its September 23 submittal to federal and state agencies, RBOC identified the negative boating impacts and urged the governmental agencies responsible for this project to consider the significant detrimental impacts the project would have on boating and recreation in the Delta, and to incorporate project revisions that will eliminate or at least substantially reduce these impacts.

For official information about the updated plans:

Bay Delta Conservation Plan Website

Bay Delta Conservation Pan Update: Formal Public Review of the BDCP and EIR/EIS to begin December 13, 2013

RBOC Urging LA Regional Water Board to Address Critical Issues Prior to Adoption of a Marina Del Rey Copper TMDL

RBOC is urging the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board [LARWQCB] to address several critical issues prior to adoption of a total maximum daily load [TMDL] for copper in Marina del Rey Harbor [MDR]. RBOC submitted a comment letter to the LARWQCB on January 10, setting forth the organization’s concerns and request:

It is RBOC’s belief that the TMDL proposed has not gone through the normal process required of TMDLs in the state of California. A technical document is required by the Clean Water Act. This technical document, as far as can be determined, was imported verbatim and is flawed because it is calculated for another harbor with different hydrology. The TMDL is directly dependent upon the volume of Marina del Rey yet the volume of Shelter Island Yacht Basin [SIYB] [60% of its size] is used in the calculation.

It is surprising that the TMDL does not appear to have undergone a third party review – a process which would catch these types of errors.

The short amount of time allowed for public comment over the holidays does not allow for our organization to perform as thorough a review of the document as we would have liked. Despite the short time afforded, we have several concerns.

There are significant breaches of applicable federal and state laws, and regulations:

  1. It is essential that any TMDL be based upon facts and science. Quoting from The Clean Water Act Section 101(a)(2): These criteria must reflect the latest scientific knowledge… And: EPA has made specific procedures available to States to derive site-specific criteria…
  2. No financial analysis is included in the TMDL. The California Water Code (Section 13241) specifically requires that several criteria, including economic cost be considered by a regional board in establishing water quality objectives.
  3. Recent germane science is overlooked. It is essential that proper consideration be given to such strong findings early in the TMDL process. Ample evidence has demonstrated the lack of toxicity from similar ambient concentrations of copper in the water column.
  • Neira, (2009), Spatial distribution of copper in relation to recreational boating in a California shallow-water basin demonstrated clearly that copper was sequester as a non-bioavailable complex and toxicity was absent to this natural process: SIYB is a likely self-detoxifying system despite continued releases of copper from hulls as copper is quickly complexed by natural ligands.
  • SPAWARs reached the same conclusion in 2010: Lack of ambient toxicity and verified protection by BLM suggest that SIYB is not impaired due to copper.
  • And most recently the DPR Study, Early [2013], showed that toxicity did not result from copper leaching from copper antifouling paints, and the process responsible was the same as the previously cited studies, non-bioavailability.
  • Recognizing the importance of bio-availability, RESOLUTION R2-2007-0042, amended the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay Region to Adopt Site-Specific Objectives for Copper. From the Final Report on the San Francisco Bay TMDL: Impairment Assessment Report for Copper and Nickel in Lower South San Francisco Bay [Tetra Tech Inc., 2000]. The results of the impairment assessment for copper support the following finding: Impairment to the Beneficial Uses of Lower South San Francisco Bay due to am