BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 300


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          Date of Hearing:  March 23, 2015


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES


                                 Das Williams, Chair


          AB 300  
          (Alejo) - As Amended March 5, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Safe Water and Wildlife Protection Act of 2015


          SUMMARY:  Establishes an Algal Bloom Task Force to review the  
          risks and negative impacts of toxic algal blooms and make  
          recommendations on funding, prevention, and long-term  
          mitigation.


          EXISTING LAW: 


          1)Establishes the State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), and  
            prescribes the membership, and functions and duties of the SCC  
            with respect to preservation of coastal resources in the  
            state.


          2)Creates an option to make a voluntary contribution on a tax  
            return to the Sea Otter Fund, which provides funding to the  
            Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and SCC for actions and  
            research reducing sea otter mortality.


          3)Under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Act),  
            establishes the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)  








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            and regional water quality control boards (RWQCBs) in the  
            California Environmental Protection Agency, which must be "the  
            principal state agencies with primary responsibility for the  
            coordination and control of water quality."
             
          4)The Act includes requirements for preparation of guidelines to  
            be used by the SWRCB and RWQCBs for the purpose of listing and  
            delisting waters as impaired and developing and implementing  
            the total maximum daily load (TMDL) program, pursuant to the  
            federal Clean Water Act. Implementing a TMDL for an impaired  
            water body involves applying the pollution control practices  
            necessary to reduce the pollutant loads to the extent  
            determined necessary in the TMDL.

          THIS BILL:
          
          1)Requires the SCC to establish and coordinate the Algal Bloom  
            Task Force comprised of a representative of the following:
             a)   State Department of Public Health (DPH);
             b)   DFW;
             c)   SWRCB;
             d)   Other relevant agency representatives.

          2)Requires the Task Force to:
             a)   Assess and prioritize the actions and research necessary  
               to develop measures that prevent or mitigate toxic algal  
               blooms in the waters of the state;
             b)   Apply the "one health" approach that considers linked  
               impacts of toxic algal blooms;
             c)   Provide funding recommendations from proposals submitted  
               by universities, local governments and nonprofits  
               organizations for applied research, projects, and programs  
               that will contribute to the development of prevention  
               strategies and sustainable mitigation actions to address  
               toxic blooms of cyanotoxins and microcystin pollution in  
               the waters of the state;
             d)   Review the risks and negative impacts of toxic algal  
               blooms on humans, wildlife, fisheries and aquatic  
               ecosystems and develop recommendations for prevention and  








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               long-term mitigation;
             e)   Develop and submit recommendations by January 1, 2017 to  
               the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency that provide  
               guidance on what type of programs or state resources will  
               be required to prevent damaging toxic algal blooms in the  
               waters of the state over time.

          4.) Authorizes SCC, DFW, Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), and  
          SWRCB, or any of them, to provide grants for applied research,  
          projects, and programs recommended by the Task Force from $1.495  
          billion available, upon appropriation by the Legislature,  
          pursuant to the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure  
          Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) for multibenefit  
          ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects in  
          accordance with statewide priorities.

          FISCAL EFFECT: Unknown


          COMMENTS: 


          1 Harmful Algal Blooms.  Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are  
            a form of bacteria. These algae are thought to be among the  
            first life forms on Earth. The majority of freshwater harmful  
            algal blooms (HABs) reported in the United States and  
            worldwide are due to one group of algae, cyanobacteria. HABs  
            have been detected in many water bodies throughout the state.  
            Elevated nutrients in water bodies can contribute to HABs.  
            Significant sources of nutrient loads include urban runoff,  
            wastewater treatment plants, fertilizer/manure applications,  
            livestock, septic systems, natural background and atmospheric  
            deposition, and groundwater inflow into streams and lakes. DPH  
            and various county health departments have documented cases of  
            dog fatalities throughout the state from HABs. In addition,  
            HABs have been implicated in the deaths of southern sea otters  
            in central California. Humans have also experienced illness  
            from exposure.









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          2 TMDLs.  Both Pinto Lake in Watsonville and the Klamath River  
            have been put on the Clean Water Act 303(d) list for  
            impairment by HABs. A TMDL is being developed for Pinto Lake  
            watershed. In 2010, a TMDL was adopted by the North Coast  
            Regional Water Quality Control Board for the Klamath River to  
            address temperature, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, and HABs.  
            Adopting and implementing these TMDLs will provide control  
            measures to address HABs. 


          3 CyanoHAB Network (CCHAB).  CCHAB, formally known as the  
            statewide Blue Green Algae Public Working Group, has a diverse  
            membership that include the SWRCB, RWQCBs the Office of  
            Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, DFW, DPH, and the  
            Department of Water Resources.  It also includes federal  
            agencies, tribal governments, county agencies, cities,  
            academics, researchers, and utilities.  CCHAB has conducted  
            investigations, supported research, and funded planning and  
            pilot projects to address HABs. Rather than creating a new  
            task force the author and the committee may wish to consider  
            amending AB 300 to require the SWRCB's CCHAB accomplish the  
            goals of AB 300.


          4 One-health approach.  The One Health approach, developed by  
            the One Health Institute at University of California at Davis,  
            recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and  
            ecosystem health and encourages collaboration between diverse  
            disciplines to address complex health problems. AB 300  
            requires the Task Force to apply a one-health approach, yet it  
            is unclear why that should be the exclusive approach and why  
            the Task Force should not consider other approaches. The  
            author and the committee may wish to consider amending the  
            bill to remove all references to the one-health approach while  
            still requiring the consideration of linked impacts of toxic  
            algal blooms and cyanotoxins on human and animal health. 










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          5 Proposition 1.  AB 300 authorizes SCC, DFW, WCB, and SWRCB to  
            enter into contracts and provide grants from the $1.495  
            billion made available for "competitive grants for  
            multibenefit ecosystem and watershed protection and  
            restoration projects in accordance with statewide priorities"  
            by Proposition 1. This pot of funding is further broken down  
            in chapter 6 of Proposition 1 to fund conservancies and many  
            other priorities and obligations. All of these funds are  
            subject to appropriation by the Legislature.  It is unclear if  
            this funding source is appropriate for the applied research,  
            projects and programs the Task Force recommends. In the past,  
            work on HABs has been funded through the SWRCB's Cleanup and  
            Abatement Fund, the Sea Otter Fund and the Ocean Protection  
            Trust Fund. These funds may be more appropriate. In addition,  
            it is unclear if the groups identified should all have  
            authorization to provide grants to implement the Task Force's  
            recommendations. If this bill passes out of this committee the  
            author may wish to further refine these fiscal provisions  
            prior to the bill's hearing in Assembly Appropriations.         






          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          City of Watsonville


          Defenders of Wildlife










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          Save Our Shores




          Opposition


          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Michael Jarred / NAT. RES. / (916) 319-2092