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Statewide Mercury Program

Statewide Mercury Program

Addressing Mercury in California's Waters


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  • Mercury - Objectives Policy
  • 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 predominate 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 timeline, below, has links to additional information for both parts of this program.

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.

For more information about the fish methylmercury objectives, please email MercuryProject@waterboards.ca.gov, or contact Amanda Palumbo at (916) 341-5687.

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