On 21 February 2014, CSPA joined Heal the Bay, California Coastkeeper Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, Environment California and others in submitting comments to the State Water Resources Control Board in support of efforts to develop biological objectives for freshwater streams and rivers in California. Specifically, the groups urged the State Board to adopt present regulatory “Option 1,” a statewide water quality objective with biological endpoints. Dischargers and industry groups are proposing weaker, watered down objectives that essential maintain the status quo.
Biological objectives (i.e., the presence, conditions and numbers of fish, macroinvertebrates and other organisms) provide a meaningful and comprehensive metric of the overall health of aquatic ecosystems. The condition of benthic macroinvertebrates, in particular, are an ideal indicator of stream health because they are relatively stationary, ubiquitous and show a diversity of responses to stressors.
The State Water Board initiated a process to develop biological objectives for freshwater streams and rivers in 2010 and has been working with scientists, regulators and stakeholders to develop and refine needed technical tools. Indicators, standardized methods, reference conditions and quality assurance have been developed and now the Board is considering a policy for biological objectives. More information on the process can be found at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/plans_policies/biological_objective.shtml