(San Diego) Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law AB 425, a bill by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins to require the State of California to address water pollution caused by copper-based anti-fouling hull paint. Under this bill, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is directed to complete by February 1, 2014 its work to evaluate and make recommendations regarding whether the paint should be subject to increased state oversight and how best to mitigate its potentially harmful effects.
“Copper-based paint is effective in keeping boat hulls free from damaging organisms like barnacles and algae but it also poses a threat to aquatic animal and plant life when it leaches into water where recreational boats are moored,” says Atkins. “We need to complete the scientific analysis in order to develop sound and balanced environmental policy that protects our marine ecosystem without being overly burdensome.”
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. This, in turn, endangers plant and animal life, particularly in areas with limited water circulation and a high concentration of moorings for personal recreational boats, which can remain stationary for long periods. 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.