NewsletterStanding Watch

State Water Boards proposes plan to streamline regulation of water pollution

A five-year plan to reduce water pollution is on the table, but at least one group of boating advocates say the state’s proposal is too restrictive. Public comments on the plan can be submitted through July 31.

STATEWIDE—Streamlined regulations could be coming to a marina near you – and an active recreational boating organization is not too happy with the state’s proposed plan. The State Water Resources Control Board, also known as the State Water Board, specifically proposed a five-year plan to meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, or CWA.

The plan, per the conditions of the CWA, must implement a management program to control nonpoint source pollution. The goal of any plan proposed by the State Water Board would have to reduce pollution sources and improve water quality, according to a review of the state’s proposed plan.

California’s 2020-2025 Nonpoint Source Program Implementation Plan aims to “present, in one place, the general goals and objectives of the co-lead agencies for addressing nonpoint source pollution over the timeframe of July 2020 to June 2025.

The plan, which is currently in draft format and available for public review, would implement and enforce waste discharge requirements, administer grant programs and collaborate with agencies on all levels (local, state and federal) to control and reduce nonpoint source pollution.

All agencies tasked with implementing the five-year plan would also have to “research and investigate traditional and nontraditional mechanisms for reducing, regulating and/or otherwise decreasing nonpoint source pollution to waters of the state.”

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) programs, similar to ones implemented in San Diego and Marina del Rey to address copper pollution in those harbors, would be a strategic approach to address and reduce water pollutants.

One goal listed in the draft five-year plan is to reduce nonpoint source discharges “from boats in the Marina del Rey Harbor.” Los Angeles County must specifically reduce the copper load in Marina del Rey’s waterways by 85 percent by March 22, 2024.

Another goal listed in the proposed five-year plan: “reduce [nonpoint source] discharges of biocides from boats residing in saltwater marinas in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.”

“Biocides are used in the hull paint for the boats residing in other marinas as well in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, including Alamitos Bay, Channel Island Harbor, King Harbor, Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors, and Ventura Harbor – Ventura Keys,” the draft plan stated. “Although these marinas are not subject to TMDLs, the Los Angeles Water Board intends to regulate these marinas in the same manner as the Marina del Rey Harbor to maintain the consistency in the compliance requirements.”

The Marina Recreation Association stated its opposition to the State Water Resources Control Board plan. A newsletter sent out to Marina Recreation Association members in July stated marinas are being “targeted.” Marina Recreation Association’s staff specifically expressed its opposition to the goal of reducing biocides discharges from boats in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

“The regulatory agencies are at it again,” the newsletter’s writer(s) stated. “It appears the Water Board wants to regulate us all the same, and use Marina del Rey as the standard. This makes no sense because the harbors and marinas up and down the coast have varying levels of issue with copper and biocides, and to look at us all through one lens is bureaucratic overreach.”

Marina Recreation Association staff added the permitting process within the proposed plan could stifle waterfront development.

“There is a goal in the plan requiring the California Coastal Commission to implement measures and [best management practices] to ‘protect and restore coastal waters’ when issuing permits,” the newsletter stated. “Obviously, this could have a huge impact on future marina developments and redevelopments.”

Newport Beach Harbor was also included in the list of goals presented in the draft five-year plan.

The stated goal specifically aims to “improve water quality and reduce nonpoint source pollution discharges in Newport Bay.”

The Santa Ana Water Board, according to the draft five-year plan, assessed the waters of Newport Bay and, according to the proposal, found “dissolved copper exceeded the saltwater California Toxics Rule criterion in both Upper and Lower Newport Bay.”

“Dissolved copper from copper antifouling paints on boats is the largest source of copper in the bay (estimated 18,000 pounds per year),” the draft five-year plan stated. “The second highest source of copper to the bay is tributary runoff (estimated 3,000 pounds per year in a wet year).”

A copper TMDL plan for Newport Bay could be developed before the end of 2021, according to the draft five-year plan.

Some of the agencies potentially involved with execution of the state’s proposed five-year plan are the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Department of Pesticide Regulation, among others.

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A draft of the 118-page California 2020-2025 Nonpoint Source Program Implementation Plan was made available to the public for review. The plan is far more extensive than what is discussed in this Standing Watch report. Visit to view the report in entirety. Reach out to the following contact with feedback. Comments on the plan will be accepted through July 31 and can be emailed to Michael Hanks of the Water Boards at


State Water Boards

Michael Hanks



George Kostyrko, Director

Office of Public Affairs



Marine Recreation Association

Scott Robertson, President



California Division of Boating and Waterways
Ramona Fernandez, Acting Deputy Director



Recreational Boaters of California
Cleve Hardaker