RBOC Urges Boaters to Testify October 19 - Newport Bay Plan for Copper

RBOC is urging the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board not to adopt basin plan amendments on October 19 that would impose stringent new requirements impacting the use of  copper-based anti-fouling paints by recreational boaters.

RBOC is urging boaters to attend the October 19 meeting of the board and to testify against adoption of the revised amendments to the water quality control plan for the Santa Ana Region.

Meeting Details:

DATE: October 19, 2018
TIME: 9:00 a.m.
LOCATION: Orange County Sanitation District, 10844 Ellis Avenue, Fountain Valley, CA

RBOC Concerns:

RBOC submitted comments to the regional board today in response to the July 10, 2018 notice that the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region will consider adopting Amendments to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Santa Ana Region to incorporate Total Maximum Daily Loads for copper and non-TMDL Action Plans for other metals in Newport Bay.

Boaters in the Santa Ana watershed and throughout the region have a keen interest in the issues being addressed by the regional board, and RBOC provided written comments in 2016 when this issue was previously considered. Our organization remains greatly concerned today.

RBOC reiterates the comments we submitted in 2016 and also endorses the August 22 comments that have been submitted by the City of Newport Beach, the points raised in those comments, and the City’s request. These include:

  • It has been 21 months since the October 28, 2016 workshop and there have been no workshops, no outreach to the boating community, no inclusion of named dischargers in the development of the latest draft TMDL.
  • To date, we do not believe that our concerns about the practical impacts of the proposed implementation plan to our community and Newport Bay have been acknowledged or appreciated. Our original comments and concerns still stand.
  • The copper TMDL unlawfully attempts to force local agencies to solve a conflict caused by the Regional Board's failure to convince the Legislature or its sister state agencies to ban copper anti-fouling paint [AFP].
  • The copper TMDL is unlawful because alternatives to copper AFP are not effective or available and may have significant adverse environmental impacts.
  • The phased implementation schedule is unreasonable and unsupported, and would force substantial early investments that may be unnecessary.

In addition, RBOC is significantly concerned that:

  • The revised amendments place an unfair and unreasonable responsibility on boats to continue to be responsible for lowering the levels of copper even after boat copper loads have been reduced to recommended levels, if the water column then shows that copper levels exceed 3.1 CTR.
  • The information included in the attachments establishes that there may in fact not be a copper impairment [either in the water or sediment], and that no implementation plan is necessary at this time.
  • The board has not acknowledged and learned from the challenges ongoing at Marina del Rey Harbor and Shelter Island.
  • The revised amendments do not reflect the fact that alternatives to copper-based AFP may cause greater environmental harm and may increase the entrance and spread of invasive species.
  • The copper TMDL imposes unfunded state mandates.
  • The substitute environmental document fails to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act and CEQA 's implementing guidelines.
  • The revised amendments seem flawed, preempted, give substandard consideration to current conditions and technical analyses, and do not comply with CEQA.

RBOC joins in the request of the City of Newport Beach that the board:

  1. Not adopt the amendments at this time.
  2. Select an additional review period a meaningful discussion about additional testing and monitoring, education, best management practices, the implementation timeline for DPR's updated AFP regulations, and more, with the goal of coming back to the Regional Board with more robust data and implementation ideas.
  3. Commit to participating thoroughly and in good faith in that discussion provided all of the parties do so collaboratively, as has been the collective spirit in the past.

For these and other reasons RBOC respectfully requests that the Regional Board not adopt the amendments on October 19, 2018, and provide additional time for all stakeholders to further discuss the stated concerns.

RBOC appreciates the Regional Board's objective to protect the water and the recreational boating community remains willing and ready to discuss the development of amendments that incorporate a justified, reasonable, fact and science-based implementation plan to address actual water quality concerns in the Newport Bay.