Statewide Mercury Program for Ag Community

FYI, to all Activists,

Dear member of California’s agricultural community,

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is distributing this notice to share information about a Statewide Mercury Program being developed.  The goal of the Statewide Mercury Program is to establish statewide water quality objectives and a control program to address elevated levels of mercury in fish that habitat waters of the state.  Elevated mercury levels in fish potentially affect both human health and wildlife when fish are consumed.

The agricultural community may have an interest in the Statewide Mercury Program because it could have indirect effect on growers, since a more protective water quality objective for mercury is likely to be adopted by the State Water Board as part of the Statewide Mercury Program.  Also, if reservoir owners and operators incur new costs as a result of the requirements of the Statewide Mercury Program, those costs may eventually be passed on to growers who pay for water.

The State Water Board has been conducting focus group meetings with parties that will be most directly affected by the Statewide Mercury Program.  For other groups, such as the agriculture community, the State Water Board is circulating a handout to provide information on the Statewide Mercury Program.  The handout is found in the link below:
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/mercury/docs/focusgroups.pdf
In this document you can see that the State Water Board is considering sediment and erosion controls for all non-point sources (including agriculture) in mercury enriched areas, since mercury binds to sediments and is transported with sediments.  For most of those in the Irrigated Lands Regulatory program, the State Water Board staff anticipates that requirements may be satisfied by existing sediment and erosion controls where required or with some enhancements to existing controls.

The State Water Board is not planning a meeting with the agriculture community at this time.  As appropriate, there will be further communication with you on this project.  If you have questions or concerns about this Statewide Mercury Program, please contact Amanda Palumbo at
Amanda.Palumbo@waterboards.ca.gov  or (916) 341-5687.

The Statewide Mercury Program is still in an early phase of development.  The State Water Board anticipates the final regulation will be adopted in 2016 or 2017.  A formal public comment period on the draft regulation and related environmental documentation is anticipated to take place before then, in 2015.

Kind regards,
Amanda

Amanda Palumbo, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist
Division of Water Quality
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street, 15th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916.341.5687
amanda.palumbo@waterboards.ca.gov