MARINA DEL REY (CBSLA.com) — Water quality regulators were set to consider a plan Thursday to reduce pollution in Marina del Rey Harbor.
Under a proposal from officials with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, boat owners would be required to strip copper paint from the bottoms of nearly 4,500 boats located in the harbor and replace the paint with a less toxic material.
Tests have shown copper pollution in Marina del Rey’s harbor water is as much as four times the amount allowed by the Board.
The proposed plan (PDF) allots 11 years to reduce copper discharge from boats by 85 percent, but can be can be amended based on new findings and good faith efforts towards improving water quality, according to board officials.
Copper – which is used in certain paints to prevent marine organisms from attaching to boat hulls – leaves traces in the harbor’s water, where it can cause gill and nervous system damage in fish , and mortality in invertebrates that make up the base of the food chain.
Copper-based paint substitutes became popular with boaters after federal regulators outlawed toxic tributyltin (TBT) in “antifouling” bottom paint over two decades ago.
Some of the options being considered to reduce copper discharge include switching from copper-based to non-toxic paints, increased use of slip liners, and use of less abrasive hull cleaning techniques, according to the Board.
But some boaters fear the proposal would be too pricey after some officials estimated paint stripping could cost as much as $6,000 for a 40-foot boat, the Los Angeles Times reported.
However, as Samuel Unger, Executive Officer of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO, boaters would have ample time to comply with the measure if it’s approved.
“We are asking the Board to consider a 10-year schedule so that boat owners can replace paints as they need to over the course of the next 10 years,” Unger said.
While concentrations of copper in the waters in Marina del Rey Harbor are considered to be at levels harmful to organisms living in the harbor, copper pollution is not isolated to Marina del Rey: two other Southern California marinas, Shelter Island Yacht Basin in San Diego and Newport Bay in Orange County, have already begun to implement their own regulatory plans, officials said.
“The measures that we’re asking our Board to adopt today, it has been proven to be effective in San Diego,” said Unger. “There’s also information from the state of Washington, where these types of paints have been banned and they will be out of circulation in 2021.”
The public meeting was being held Thursday starting at 9 a.m. at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California at 700 North Alameda Street in Los Angeles.