Statewide Mercury 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.

On May 2, 2016, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted Resolution 2017-0027, which approved "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." Resolution 2017-0027 provides a consistent regulatory approach throughout the state by setting mercury limits to protect the beneficial uses associated with the consumption of fish by both people and wildlife. Additionally, the State Water Board established three new beneficial use definitions for use the State and Regional Water Boards in designating Tribal Traditional Culture (CUL), Tribal Subsistence Fishing (T-SUB), and Subsistence Fishing (SUB) beneficial uses to inland surface waters, enclosed bays, or estuaries in the state. The State Water Board approved one new narrative and four new numeric mercury objectives to apply to those inland surface waters, enclosed bays, and estuaries of the state that have any of the following beneficial use definitions: COMM, CUL, T-SUB, WILD, MAR, RARE, WARM, COLD, EST, or SAL, with the exception of waterbodies or waterbody segments with site-specific mercury objectives. These provisions will be implemented through National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits, water quality certifications, waste discharge requirements (WDRs) and waivers of WDRs.

Announcements

  • NEW! Final Provisions are available.
    Final 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

PREVIOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY APPROVAL

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved State Water Resources Control Board Resolution no. 2017-027 pursuant to section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act and 40 Code of Federal Regulations Part 131.

  • OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW APPROVAL

    The Office of Administrative Law has approved State Water Resources Control Board Resolution No. 2017-0027 pursuant to section 11353 of the Government Code.

  • FINAL DOCUMENTS AVAILABLE

    On May 2, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted Resolution No. 2017-0027, 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 State Water Board has also released the Final Regulatory Language (Appendix A of the Final Staff Report).  The Final Regulatory Language and the Final Staff Report, available as separate PDFs at these links:

    Changes made to the Draft Resolution and the Revised Draft Final 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 are available in Change Sheet #1 (Circulated May 1, 2017)

  • May 2, 2017 Board Meeting recording (via Youtube)

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.

Timeline

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 Focus Group Meetings in 2014 Link to Tribes Fish Use Presentation link to Reservoir Program CEQA Scoping in March 2012 Scientific_Peer_Review

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