Groundwater Management Program

Sediment Quality Objectives

Sediments in bays and estuaries are often contaminated with a variety of pollutants stemming from sources including industrial and agricultural discharges, municipal wastewater treatment plants and storm water. Exposure to contaminated sediments can have a significant effect on the health, diversity and abundance of invertebrates such as clams and worms. Foraging fish and birds may also be exposed by ingesting contaminated invertebrates or sediments. In turn, those organisms consuming contaminated fish may be exposed to toxic pollutants. These effects underscore the need to develop sediment quality objectives that protect aquatic ecosystems and human health.

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) intends to develop and adopt sediment quality objectives (SQOs) for enclosed bays and estuaries. This process will require approximately four years to complete. This page contains links to information on the State Water Board's progress.

New! Notice of Public Hearing

The State Water Board is proposing new amendments to the Water Quality Control Plan for Enclosed Bays and Estuaries. These amendments, together with existing sediment quality provisions of the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries Plan, will be incorporated into the Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays and Estuaries Plan of California (ISWEBE) once it is adopted. The amendments to the plan include application and implementation of the SQO protecting benthic communities from direct exposure to pollutants in sediments, and application and implementation of the SQO protecting human consumers of resident sportfish from contaminants that bioaccumulate from sediment into fish tissue. The amendments also include organizational and formatting changes to accommodate future incorporation in the ISWEBE.


Questions or Comments?

Please email Chris Beegan, Division of Water Quality.