Water Board Discusses Copper in Newport Bay

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California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region, will hold a public workshop today to discuss copper in Newport Harbor

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. at the Irvine Ranch Water District, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave.

The topic is “Basin Plan Amendments to Incorporate Total Maximum Daily Loads for Copper and Non-TMDL Action Plans for Other Metals in Newport Bay.”

The TMDL regulatory order the board is considering would require responsible parties to reduce copper in Newport Harbor by 83 percent from boat hulls within 15 years, according to the city.

“The major source of copper to Newport Bay is believed to be from copper anti-fouling paints; therefore responsible parties include marina owner/operators, individual recreational boat owners, boat yards, as well as the city of Newport Beach and county of Orange and even the State Lands Commission,” staff explain on the city website.

In a letter to the water board, the city of Newport Beach identified several concerns regarding the amendments.

The copper TMDL unlawfully attempts to force local agencies to ban copper anti-fouling paint, the city points out in the letter. It is also unlawful because alternatives to copper anti-fouling paint are not effective or available. It also imposes unfunded state mandates that the state must reimburse under the California Constitution.

The city also states that it is improper to promulgate a TMDL for an entire bay when only certain areas of water bodies within the bay may even be arguably impaired.

The data sources the Water Board staff referenced in their report are more than a decade old, the city points out in the letter. There have been significant dredging activities in Upper and Lower Newport Bay since then.

Also, the vessel count used in the calculations is significantly different than the actual, verified number of 4,470 vessels in Newport Harbor.

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