Another View: Copper paint rules are reasonable

I would like to set the record straight on inaccuracies and misconceptions in a recent Viewpoints article (“A plan to prevent copper pollution is fatally flawed,” July 19) that takes issue with a water quality regulation issued by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board that would require a reduction in harmful levels of copper discharged to Marina del Rey.

A statewide study shows Marina del Rey to have the worst copper pollution of any marina in California, with serious toxic effects on the harbor, where people from all walks of life live, fish and boat. Studies show that copper-based hull paint is the major source of copper in the harbor.

Linda S. Adams and Karen L. Hathaway wrongly assert that the Los Angeles water board set a dangerous precedent by exposing boaters to legal liability. Naming individuals as responsible parties in a Total Maximum Daily Load regulation is common to identify those who may be required to reduce pollution from sources they control; it does not enable third-party lawsuits against boat owners for discharges of copper from boat hulls.

The article also inaccurately contends that alternative hull paints are not available. In fact, boatyard owners at Marina del Rey say they are available, and some boat owners there are already using non-copper-based paints.

Adams and Hathaway go on to wrongly accuse the Los Angeles water board of not doing its homework before approving the regulation, ignoring the fact that the board staff has had numerous meetings with boat owners, Los Angeles County and others, and made modifications based on their feedback. The board has also considered site-specific data of the copper contamination problem. As it has for other regulations, it will consider the results of future scientific studies and incorporate their findings into future decisions.

Finally, Adams and Hathaway reference Assembly Bill 425 as their preferred vehicle. But the legislation and resulting report, though helpful in reducing copper in many waters, acknowledges that copper pollution in large marinas such as Marina del Rey will not be fully addressed by the report’s recommendations.

The Los Angeles water board looks forward to working with the boating community and the county of Los Angeles, among others, to find sensible solutions to reducing copper to acceptable levels in Marina del Rey.