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Policy to Support Development of Site-Specific Water Quality Objectives for Copper and Zinc in Freshwaters of California

What's New

The State Water Board will hold a virtual Public California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Scoping Meeting on February 17, 2022 (4:00 pm - 6:00 pm) to discuss the Proposed Water Quality Control Policy to Support the Development of Site-Specific Water Quality Objectives for Copper and Zinc in Fresh Waterbodies of California Using the Biotic Ligand Model. Detailed instructions to participate in the State Water Board Public Meeting are included in the Public Notice.

Description:

New water quality control policy that will describe protocols and procedures required to develop site-specific water quality objectives for copper and zinc in fresh waterbodies of California.

Objectives:

  1. Ensure that new site-specific objectives for copper and zinc are based on recent scientific understanding of metals bioavailability.
  2. Provide the means to incorporate bioavailability-based objectives into decision making processes for the purposes of assessing water quality and beneficial use protection for copper and zinc.
  3. Ensure consistent protocols and procedures are applied by regional boards to support the development of site-specific objectives that are protective of aquatic life and related beneficial uses.
  4. Provide a consistent approach for regional boards to implement the revised site-specific objectives within permits and to calculate Total Maximum Daily Load waste load allocations and load allocations.

Scope:

Develop a water quality control policy that describes the protocols and procedures to support the development of site-specific water quality objectives for copper and zinc, applicable to all fresh waterbodies of California. Once adopted Regional Water Boards, permittees, and stakeholders would be required to apply the methodology when developing site-specific objectives for copper and zinc. This project would not in and of itself establish new site-specific objectives.

Background:

The State Water Boards 2015-2016 Integrated Report establishes that copper and zinc have caused over eighty water bodies to be listed as impaired. Each listing would eventually require a form of corrective action such as additional stormwater controls or improved wastewater treatment. If the standards by which the water quality were assessed did not use the latest science, then there is a potential for water bodies or segments to be falsely labeled which could be costly for the regulated community.

In September 2019, staff were directed to initiate development of a methodology for the development of site-specific water quality objectives for copper based on U.S. EPA’s 2007 Copper Criteria and were later directed to include Zinc. EPA currently provides some technical guidance on generating sufficient data for applying the biotic ligand model to develop water quality objectives; however, California lacks clear and consistent guidance for Regional Water Boards on what is acceptable.

 

(Updated 02/01/2022)

Project Information

Start2019
Completion2023
PrerequisiteNone
Executive
Sponsors
Karen Mogus
Lead StaffChris Beegan