Workshop for mercury-impaired reservoirs operators, owners scheduled for Oct. 11

By on September 13, 2017

Owners and operators of mercury-impaired reservoirs throughout California will have the opportunity in mid-October to attend a first-time workshop to discuss the Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs draft staff report as well as the reservoir water chemistry and fisheries management questionnaire distributed in June.

The workshop will be held on Oct. 11 at Nottinghams in Big Bear Lake from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. The workshop will follow the morning session of the California Lake Management Society’s (CALM) agenda. The California Water Resources Control Board has indicated that additional meetings for later in fall 2017 are in the planning stages.

The Water Board has identified 132 mercury-impaired reservoirs throughout California. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment through gold and mercury mines and atmospheric deposits. Minor amounts of mercury come from industrial and municipal wastewater discharges and urban run-off.

Historically, mercury has been used in California for gold extraction beginning with the state’s Gold Rush in 1848. Estimates are that 10 to 30 percent of the mercury was lost in the mining process, resulting in widespread contamination of river and lake sediments.

Mercury has negatively impacted fish throughout the state rendering them unsafe for human and wildlife consumption. Mercury is a heavy metal that is poisonous in very small amounts. Infants, young children, and women of childbearing age are most at risk. It is known to cause brain damage as well as kidney and lung problems in humans and wildlife. Many obstetricians recommend that expectant mothers do not eat fish during their pregnancies due to the possible negative effects of mercury on a developing fetus.

For additional information on mercury sources in California, an explanation of how mercury accumulates in the food chain and an analysis of factors affecting methylmercury accumulation in reservoir fish, refer go to the State Water Board’s Fact Sheet at: http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/mercury/reservoirs/docs/factsheet.pdf.

Registration for the workshop is requested prior to October 2 at: https://goo.gl/forms/B2GeTii7XkBi4wUm1. Registration for the CALMS Annual Conference is not required to attend this workshop. For more information about the reservoir program, please email MercuryProject@waterboards.ca.gov or call Carrie Austin at 510-622-1015 or Lauren Smitherman at 916-464-4668.