Friday, May 24, 2013


(Sacramento) The California State Assembly today unanimously passed a bill by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins that will lead to a determination of how best to address the water pollution caused by copper-based boat hull paint.  AB 425 requires the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to evaluate and make recommendations regarding whether to make the paint subject to increased state oversight and how best to mitigate its potentially harmful effects.  The bill calls for DPR to issue its report no later than February 1, 2014.

“Copper paint protects boat hulls, but can be harmful for our waterways and the animals that live in them,” says Atkins.  “AB 425 will provide the scientific analysis we need in order to formulate sound environmental policy to protect our water quality and marine life in a way that is least burdensome to boat owners.”

Copper based paint keeps boat hulls free of damaging organisms like barnacles and algae, but, at the same time, can foul the water and endanger aquatic life.  This is particularly problematic in waterways that are semi-enclosed, experience little water circulation, and have a high concentration of recreational vessel moorings, where boats spend most of their time in one place.

Copper based hull paint is legal in California as long as it is registered as a pesticide; however, the level of pollution in some bodies of water exceeds that allowable under the federal Clean Water Act and state water quality regulations.  For example, Shelter Island Yacht Basin in San Diego Bay has been ordered to reduce its copper pollution by 76% by the year 2022.

DPR has been conducting ongoing research and analysis of the issue for a number of years without issuing recommendations.  AB 425 is intended to jump start this process and require DPR to complete its work so that informed policy decisions can be made.

The bill will next be considered in the State Senate.

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