Port of San Diego continues to tout copper reduction program

Port of San Diego’s copper reduction program continued to meet its goals, district staff told commissioners during their June 12 meeting.

The port district specifically met its Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, goals for the 2017 interim loading target, according to a staff report prepared for commissioners.

Port officials were expected to reduce copper loads at Shelter Island Yacht Basin by 40 percent by 2017; the port district reportedly achieved a 45.4 percent reduction of copper in the basin.

Last year was the final one of the TMDL program’s second phase. The first phase required port officials to reduce copper loads at Shelter Island Yacht Basin by 10 percent between 2007 and 2012. Phase two began in 2012 and continued through 2017.

“Today’s presentation … marks the end of our second compliance phase, and so far it’s been a success story,” Karen Holman, the port district’s director of environmental protection, told commissioners.

The port district has worked with recreational boaters, leaseholders, paint suppliers, in-water hull cleaners, boatyards, fishing interests, marinas and various local, regional and state agencies to execute its copper reduction program, Holman added.

Kelly Tate, a senior environmental specialist with the port district, said boaters reduced the use of high copper paints between 2012 and 2017.

Use of low copper paints, meanwhile, steadily increased during the same stretch.

The number of boats within the Shelter Island Yacht Basin ranges between 2,200 and 2,500, according to port district staff.

The third and final phase is currently underway and continues through 2022. Port officials must reduce the copper load for Shelter Island Yacht Basin by 76 percent by 2022.

Port district staff will continue to work with the Regional Water Board to fulfill its final compliance phase. Tate added the district would also reach out to stakeholders and educated as many boaters as possible on topics such as hull cleaning, paints and alternative technologies.

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