Addressing Mercury In California’s Waters

Lookie here- the SWRCB is looking for “dredgers” to clean the mercury from the dams where the methlyization takes place, instead of the rivers where the suction dredgers can extract it before it gets to the warm waters of the dams. Sounds like twisted science to me:

Addressing Mercury In California’s Waters

Statewide Mercury Program

Addressing Mercury in California’s Waters

MapMany of California’s waters are contaminated by mercury (also called quicksilver), a heavy metal and potent neurotoxin that is harmful to both humans and wildlife. Mercury builds up in the bodies of fish that swim in waters with even small amounts of mercury; and in the bodies of humans who eat contaminated fish. In our state, sources of mercury typically include:

  • Historic mercury and gold mining activities
  • Atmospheric deposition from both local and global airborne sources
  • Discharges from wastewater treatment plants that cannot remove mercury from industrial processes or mercury thermometers broken in a sink

Women of childbearing years and children are most at risk from mercury poisoning. For more information, see Safety Tips for Women and Children and General Health Advice for People Catching and Eating Sport Fish in California.


Quick Links


envelope  Receive information by email about the Statewide Fish Tissue Objectives Project and/or the Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs. Subscribe online to:

>>>  Mercury – Objectives Policy   AND/OR    >>>  Mercury – Statewide Control Program for Reservoirs


Note:  This webpage will be updated as project documents are made available for public review, and as public meetings are scheduled. Check back for the latest information!


What State Agencies Are Doing About Mercury Contamination

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the affiliated Regional Water Quality Control Boards are working to reduce concentrations of mercury in our waters. The California Department of Public Health and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are educating people who eat local fish about the types and amounts of fish that are safe and unsafe to eat

New! Mercury Objectives Project: Setting Standards for Safe Amounts of Methylmercury in Tissues of Fish

The State Water Board is developing a set of standards (“objectives”) for safe amounts of methylmercury in the tissues of fish. These objectives will inform mercury policy, mercury pollution prevention plans, and water quality permits. They will apply to California’s inland waters, enclosed bays, and estuaries; and protect humans and wildlife that consume locally caught fish.

Note for November & December 2011: this project is in the initial stages. We have not yet scheduled any meetings or developed any materials other than this website. In the future, for more information, contact Michael Buckman, (916) 341-5479.

New! Statewide Mercury Control Program for Reservoirs

Water Board staff from around the state are working to develop a regulatory program to address mercury contamination in reservoirs in California.

Note for November & December 2011: this project is in the initial stages. We have not yet scheduled any meetings or developed any materials other than this website. In the future, contact Carrie Austin, (510) 622-1015


Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

The Water Boards adopt and implement comprehensive pollution control plans, known as “total maximum daily loads,” or TMDLs. A TMDL identifies the amount of a pollutant that a water body can hold and still be safe for uses by humans and wildlife.

Completed Mercury TMDLs (including date approved by U.S. EPA)

Mercury TMDLs in Development

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