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Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs
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- Mercury - Statewide Provisions
Addressing Mercury in California's Waters
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 are developing a statewide water quality control program for mercury in 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.
- NEW! Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs Introductory Fact Sheet (June 2016 Fact Sheet).
- NEW! Draft Summary of Proposed Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs (May 2016) and List of Mercury-Impaired Reservoirs to be Included in Phase 1
- Appendix A: Importance of Primary and Secondary Production in Controlling Fish Tissue Mercury Concentrations will be appended to the Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs technical staff report, currently under development. Appendix A describes the scientific basis of the mercury conceptual model and linkage analysis, which will be fully described in the technical staff report. Appendix A will be submitted to formal scientific peer review together with the technical staff report.
- For more information on mercury sources in California, an explanation of how mercury accumulates in the food chain, and an analysis of factors affecting methylmercury accumulation in reservoir fish, refer to our Fact Sheet (2013 Fact Sheet).
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.
- CEQA Scoping Notice
- Public Scoping Presentation
- Project Summary
- Control Program for Mercury in California's Reservoirs Introductory fact sheet
- Public Comments Received
During the April 23, 2013 State Water Board Meeting, Water Board staff presented an update on recently adopted TMDLs and on the developing Statewide Mercury Program.
On September 26, 2013, Water Board staff gave a presentation at the EPA Region 9 State-of-the-Science Workshop on mercury remediation in aquatic environments as it relates to historic mines and other factors.
- Fish Mercury Impairment in California Reservoirs: Historic Mines and Other Factors
- A complete archive of the EPA workshop
Water Board staff held several small meetings with Tribes and stakeholder groups to inform them on the purpose and the initial scope of the proposed mercury amendment, and to gather feedback to aid in the development of the draft regulatory proposal.
- Focus group handout, provided a summary of program options under consideration and background
- Slides presented during the meetings
On November 1, 2013, Water Board staff presented at the 33rd International Symposium on important factors influencing predatory fish mercury concentrations in California reservoirs.
- Important Factors Influencing Predatory Fish Mercury Concentrations in California Reservoirs: A Statistical Approach
- Reservoir Management Strategies to Reduce Fish Mercury Levels: An Integral Part of the Statewide Reservoir Mercury TMDL
On October 9, 2014, Water Board staff presented at the 29th annual CALMS meeting on the Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs and proposed in-reservoir mercury management options.
- Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs Overview
- Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs Study Options
On January 14, 2015, Professor Alex Horne at University of California, Berkeley presented information on in-reservoir mercury management options.
On June 3, 2016 and June 9, 2016, Water Board staff held meetings in Riverside, CA and Sacramento, CA to discuss possible approaches to reduce fish methylmercury levels in reservoirs.
On October 13, 2016, Water Board staff presented at the 31st annual CALMS meeting on the Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs and proposed in-reservoir mercury management options.
Other Mercury Programs in California
Statewide Mercury Water Quality Objectives
The State Water Board is developing water quality objectives to protect humans and wildlife that consume locally caught fish. For more information, see Mercury Water Quality Objectives
Total Maximum Daily Loads for Mercury in California Waters
The Water Boards adopt and implement comprehensive pollution control plans, known as "total maximum daily loads," or TMDLs. A TMDL identifies the amount of a pollutant that a water body can hold and still be safe for uses by humans and wildlife.
Completed Mercury TMDLs (including date approved by U.S. EPA)
- Clear Lake Mercury TMDL (Central Valley Region, 2003)
- Guadalupe River Watershed Mercury TMDL (San Francisco Bay Region, 2010)
- Los Angeles Area Lakes TMDLs (Los Angeles Region, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
- Walker Creek Watershed Mercury TMDL (San Francisco Bay Region, 2008)
- Cache Creek, Bear Creek, and Harley Gulch Mercury TMDL (Central Valley Region, 2007)
- Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta Methylmercury TMDL (Central Valley Region, 2011)
- San Francisco Bay Mercury TMDL (San Francisco Bay Region, 2008)
- Sulphur Creek Mercury TMDL (Central Valley Region, 2009
Mercury TMDLs in Development
- Big Bear Lake Mercury TMDL(Santa Ana Region)
Fish Consumption Advisories and Other State Efforts to Address Health Effects of Mercury
The California Department of Public Health and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are educating people who eat local fish, about the types and amounts of fish that are safe and unsafe to eat.Women of childbearing years and children are most at risk from mercury poisoning. For more information, see Safety Tips for Women and Children and General Health Advice for People Catching and Eating Sport Fish in California.
Other Mercury Related Programs
An international team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey recently documented widespread mercury contamination in air, soil, sediment, plants, fish, and wildlife at various levels across western North America. They evaluated potential risk from mercury to human, fish, and wildlife health, and examined resource management activities that influence this risk. Results of this synthesis are published in a special issue of Science of the Total Environment
- Comprehensive Study finds Widespread Mercury Contamination Across Western North America
- Synthesis of Mercury Distribution and Bioaccumulation Across Western North America