San Diego Boaters Learn About Eco-Friendly Paints

Byline: Taylor Hill

San Diego Boaters Learn About Eco-Friendly Paints

SAN DIEGO — More than 60 local boat owners attended a Port of San Diego-sponsored eco-friendly hull paint expo April 21, to learn more about alternatives to copper-based antifouling bottom paints and possible grant funds available to boaters in Shelter Island Yacht Basin who opt to apply the new coatings.

Boaters, hull paint manufacturers and San Diego Bay boatyard representatives came to the event, held at Nielsen Beaumont Premier Yachtworks on Shelter Island.

Dubbed “Raising Hull,” the expo gave boat owners a chance to view displays, visit booths and talk to manufacturers of non-copper or low-leach copper-based paint, boatyard representatives, University of California Coastal Resources Program representatives and Port of San Diego staff members about the benefits and upkeep involved with alternatives to copper-based paints.

The Port of San Diego also used the expo to inform Shelter Island Yacht Basin boaters of grant funding that is available to those who opt to switch from copper-based hull paint to non-biocide alternative hull paint.

Around $600,000 in grant funds have been designated by the State Water Resources Control Board for boaters docked or moored in Shelter Island Yacht Basin, in an effort to bring down the elevated levels of copper found in that area.

Studies conducted by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board found that more than 95 percent of the copper in Shelter Island Yacht Basin could be attributed to copper leaching from bottom paints.

With the copper levels exceeding federal and state standards, the Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) order for the basin, stating that there must be a reduction in the amount of dissolved copper in Shelter Island Yacht Basin of 10 percent by the end of 2012, 40 percent by 2017 and 74 percent by 2022.

In an effort to reach these benchmarks, the Port of San Diego has been working with boat owners to inform them about copper-based bottom paint alternatives, emphasizing Best Management Practices for hull cleaning companies and applying for grants to offset boaters’ expenses in hull paint replacement.

The port is estimating the cost of stripping old copper-based hull paint at $6.30 per foot, meaning that stripping copper paint from a 30-foot boat would cost $2,000 to $3,000. The grant money from the State Water Resources Control Board would cover around 200 to 250 boats being stripped. Boat owners would then be responsible for paying for the new non-biocide hull paint application.

Eco-friendly hull paints protect the boat’s hull while reducing the paint’s environmental impact. The most environment-friendly options are non-biocide hull paints. Non-biocide hull paints do not release any chemicals into the water and can provide long-term benefits for the boat owner and the environment, according to the port.

Grant funds will be available through June 2014, unless the fund is depleted before the deadline.

Carl Smith, owner of a 42-foot powerboat, Seatrek IV, was the first Shelter Island boat owner to use the state grant funds administered by the Port of San Diego to remove copper antifouling hull paint from his boat.

Smith said using a non-biocide paint “is well worthwhile to maintain a clean bay and the future health of its flora and fauna.”             The event marked the port’s second hull paint expo, with the inaugural eco-friendly hull paint expo held at Driscoll Boat Works on Shelter Island in August 2011. About 150 boaters attended the event.

For more information on the copper reduction program and hull paint grant funding, visit sandiegobaycopperreduction.org, or email hullpainttransition@portofsandiego.org. Boaters can also call the port’s Environmental and Land Use Management Department at (619) 686-6254.

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