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Statewide Mercury Program

Statewide Mercury Program

Addressing Mercury in California's Waters


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  • Mercury - Statewide Provisions
  • Mercury - Statewide Control Program for Reservoirs
    (* located alphabetically under the WATER QUALITY TOPICS)

Mercury is negatively impacting the beneficial uses of many waters of the state by making fish unsafe for human and wildlife consumption. Although mercury occurs naturally in the environment, concentrations of mercury exceed background levels because of human activities. Gold and mercury mines and atmospheric deposition are the predominant sources of mercury, with minor contributions from industrial and municipal wastewater discharges and urban run-off.

State and Regional Water Board staff is developing a statewide water quality control program for mercury (statewide mercury program or program) that will include: 1) mercury control program for reservoirs; and 2) mercury water quality objectives.



The Draft Staff Report, including the Draft Substitute Environmental Documentation (Draft SED), for the proposed Part 2 of the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California - Tribal and Subsistence Fishing Beneficial Uses and Mercury Provisions (the Provisions) is available as of January 3, 2017. The Provisions include proposed statewide mercury water quality objectives.

NEW! The proposed Provisions and Draft Staff Report and SED is a very large document. Staff have broken up the documents into sections that will allow more user-friendly navigation, and are downloadable as individual PDF files. In the table below, click on the link in the Document Section column to download a PDF of the sections described.

Document Section Description
Staff Report The Executive Summary and Chapters 1 - 10 of the Staff Report and SED
Appendix A Proposed Provisions for Draft Part 2 of the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California-Tribal and Subsistence Fishing Beneficial Uses (proposed Regulatory Language)
Appendix B Abbreviations and Definitions
Appendix C List of Waters Impaired By Mercury
Appendix D Description of the Nine Water Board Regions
Appendix E Related Government Mercury Programs
Appendix F Abandoned Mines and Suction Dredge Mining
Appendix G Fish Consumption Studies
Appendix H Calculation of the Human Health Objectives
Appendix I Calculation of the Water Column Targets
Appendix J Review of Effects on Wildlife
Appendix K Wildlife Targets
Appendix L Derivation of Trophic Level Ratios
Appendix M Summary of Mercury TMDLs
Appendix N Wastewater and Industrial Discharges
Appendix O Methods to Measure Mercury
Appendix P Storm Water Permits
Appendix Q Wetland Studies
Appendix R Economic Analysis
Appendix S Responses to the External Peer Review
Appendix T Development of Beneficial Uses
Appendix U Overriding Considerations


The State Water Board will receive public comments on the proposed Provisions starting on January 3, 2017.

State Water Board staff held a staff workshop on January 9, 2017 to provide the public an opportunity to discuss the Provisions. No Board action was taken. Staff gave two presentations. The first was on the proposed Mercury Water Quality Objectives and the proposed program of implementation. The second was on the proposed beneficial uses. Links to the presentation documents in PDF form are below:

A video recording of the staff workshop is available on the State Water Board's YouTube channel.

The State Water Board will hold a public hearing on February 7, 2017 to receive public input and comments on the Provisions and the Draft Staff Report, including the Draft SED. A quorum of the State Water Board may be present; however, no Board action will be taken.

The Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment, Staff Workshop, Public Hearing, and Notice of Filing is available online at this link.

Comments regarding the Provisions and the Draft Staff Report and Draft SED may be submitted to the Clerk to the Board beginning on January 3, 2017. The deadline to receive comments will be February 17, 2017 by 12:00 noon. Information on deadline to submit comments on the provision and public comments submitted to the Clerk for the Board are available on the State Water Board’s Documents for Public Comment page at this link.

Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs

The Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs will address the about 150 mercury-impaired reservoirs as well as other reservoirs that are identified as mercury-impaired in the future.

For more information about the reservoir program, please email MercuryProject@waterboards.ca.gov, or Carrie Austin, or phone (510) 622-1015.

Statewide Mercury Water Quality Objectives

The State Water Board is developing water quality objectives to protect humans and wildlife that consume locally caught fish. The objectives will likely be expressed as a methylmercury concentration in fish tissue. These objectives will inform mercury policy, mercury pollution prevention plans, and water quality permits. They will apply to California’s inland surface waters, enclosed bays, and estuaries.

Link to Opportunity for Public Comment & Draft Available

For more information about the fish tissue methylmercury objectives, contact Jacob Iversen at (916) 341-5479.

Beneficial Uses: Tribal Traditional Cultural, Tribal Subsistence Fishing, and Subsistence Fishing

The State Water Board is developing beneficial categories pertaining to tribal traditional and cultural practices, tribal subsistence fishing, and subsistence fishing by other cultures or individuals. For more information, see:

The beneficial uses will be released for public comment and considered for adoption by the State Water Board as part of the Mercury Water Quality Objectives project. These beneficial uses will be included in the Mercury Water Quality Objectives project since these beneficial uses include fish consumption and the Mercury Water Quality Objectives will protect fish consumption.


This timeline shows the development of the Statewide Mercury Program. The presentation materials from the listed events, including the CEQA scoping documents and comment letters, are available for your review.

2016 Timeline link to Mercury Objectives of February 2012 link to Update on Statewide Mercury Program to Board members in April 2013 link to NALMS Presentations in 2013 link to Focus Group Meetings in 2014 Link to Tribes Fish Use Presentation link to Lake Management Presentation in January 2015 link to CALMS Presentation in october 2014 link to EPA Mine Workshop in September 2013 link to Reservoir Program CEQA Scoping in March 2012 link to 2016 General Outreach

Other Mercury Related Programs