BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER
                             Senator Fran Pavley, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:            AB 300          Hearing Date:    June 23,  
          2015
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          |Author:    |Alejo                  |           |                 |
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          |Version:   |June 11, 2015    Amended                             |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|Angee Doerr                                          |
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              Subject:  Safe Water and Wildlife Protection Act of 2016.

          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
          Existing law:
          1)  Under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act,  
            establishes the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)  
            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" (Water Code  
            Division 7).

          2)  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  
            (Public Resources Code Division 21, State Coastal Conservancy)

          3)  Provides a sum of one billion four hundred ninety-five  
            million dollars ($1,495,000,000) that shall be available, upon  
            appropriation by the Legislature, for competitive grants for  
            multibenefit ecosystem and watershed protection and  
            restoration projects in accordance with statewide priorities  
            (Water Code Division 26.7, Chapter 6, Protecting Rivers,  
            Lakes, Streams, Coastal Waters, and Watersheds).

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill establishes an Algal Bloom Task Force within the State  
          Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Specifically, this bill:








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          1)Finds and declares a series of statements relating to the  
            toxicity of cyanobacterial blooms, and the deleterious impacts  
            they have within state waters.

          2)Creates Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 31420) to Division  
            21 of the Public Resources Code.


          3)Defines, for the purposes of this Chapter:

            "Waters of the state" as any surface waters in the state,  
            including, but not limited to, coastal lakes, lagoons and  
            estuaries, rivers, streams, inland lakes and reservoirs, and  
            wetlands.

          4)Establishes the state Algal Bloom Task Force within the SWRCB.  
            The task force will be comprised of a representative from  
            SWRCB, Department of Public Health (DPH), Department of Fish  
            and Wildlife (DFW), Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA),  
            State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), and other relevant agencies  
            to be determined by the chairperson of the board, in  
            consultation with the Secretary for Environmental Protection.  
            The Task Force would have the following responsibilities:

          (a) Assess and prioritize the actions and research necessary to  
            develop measures that prevent or sustainably mitigate toxic  
            algal blooms in the waters of the state. 
          (b) Solicit and review proposals from universities, local  
            governments, California Native American tribes, and nonprofit  
            organizations for applied research, projects, and programs  
            that develop strategies or activities that prevent or mitigate  
            toxic blooms of cyanotoxins and establish cyanotoxin  
            monitoring programs or develop laboratory capacity for  
            analyzing water samples for cyanotoxin pollution.
          (c) Provide funding recommendations to the chairperson of the  
            board and to DFW, SCC, other members of the task force, and  
            relevant agency representatives for these proposals.
          (d) Review the risks and negative impacts of toxic algal blooms  
            and microcystin pollution on humans, wildlife, fisheries,  
            livestock, pets, and aquatic ecosystems, and develop  
            recommendations for prevention and long-term mitigation. 
          (e) Submit a summary of findings based on this review, including  
            recommendations on programs or state resources that will be  
            required to prevent damaging toxic algal blooms and  








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            microcystin pollution in the waters, to the appropriate policy  
            and fiscal committees of the Legislature, the Secretary for  
            Environmental Protection, and the Secretary of the Natural  
            Resources Agency on or before January 1, 2017. 
          (e) Organize meetings and workshops of experts and stakeholders  
            as needed to implement this section.
          (f) Establish a notification procedure and publish notices to  
            inform the public about ongoing activities, and provide  
            opportunities for public review and comment on applied  
            research, projects, and programs solicited.

          5)Creates a sunset date of January 1, 2019 for the provisions of  
            this bill

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
          The co-sponsor of AB300, the City of Watsonville, writes "Many  
          lakes and rivers across the State have tested positive for algal  
          toxins. Unfortunately, there is a significant lack of awareness  
          at the public health, veterinary and local government level  
          regarding the presence of toxic algal blooms and their health  
          effects. It is clear that California needs a more coordinated  
          approach to managing toxic algal blooms to protect the State's  
          residents, water supplies and natural resources. AB 300 provides  
          that coordination by forming a task force that brings water  
          quality, public health and environmental health experts  
          together"

          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
          None received

          COMMENTS
          What causes algal blooms? Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae,  
          can live in both marine and freshwater. These bacteria thrive in  
          warm, nutrient rich waters. California's watersheds are  
          especially prone to toxic algal blooms due to the warm climate,  
          shrinking water supplies, run-off from agricultural and  
          municipal sources, and climate change. Because of this,  
          California has seen algal blooms within rivers, lakes,  
          estuaries, and along our coasts. 

          Are toxic algal blooms a problem in California? Toxic algal  
          blooms have been reported in multiple locations across  
          California, including Siskiyou County, Humboldt County, Lake  
          County, Kern County, Mono County, Riverside County, San  








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          Francisco Bay Delta, San Joaquin, and Santa Cruz County. Toxic  
          algal blooms impact drinking water, human health, wildlife,  
          pets, recreation, and ecosystems.

          The cyanobacterium Microcystis produces potent toxins, including  
          microcystin.  Microcystis blooms can sicken or kill people and  
          animals through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact. Larger  
          marine animals, such as sea otters, have been killed by  
          consuming shellfish that has been contaminated with microcystin.  
          These blooms also deplete oxygen in the water, killing fish and  
          other aquatic life. Microcystin is a federally regulated  
          pollutant. 

          Why is a task force needed? Solving the toxic algal bloom  
          problem requires the coordinated effort of several state  
          departments and requires new multidisciplinary research.  
          Although we have several groups within California that monitor  
          water quality and coastal algal blooms, including Southern  
          California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP), Central and  
          Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS), Southern  
          California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS), and the  
          Department of Public Health, there is not currently a  
          coordinated effort to track and better understand toxic algal  
          blooms in California.

           Double-Referral.  The Rules Committee referred this bill to both  
          the Committee on Natural Resources and Water and to the  
          Committee Environmental Quality. Therefore, if this bill passes  
          this committee, it will be referred to the Committee on  
          Environmental Quality, which will consider the issues within  
          their jurisdiction.

          SUGGESTED AMENDMENTS 
          AMENDMENT 1
               Currently, AB300 Section 2, reads: 
               31421(c)Waters of the state means any surface waters in the  
               state, including, but not limited to, coastal lakes,  
               lagoons and estuaries, rivers, streams, inland lakes and  
               reservoirs, and wetlands.

               However, toxic algal blooms are known to occur (and are  
               occurring) along Californias coasts in marine environments.  
               An amendment is suggested to change this to:









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               31421(c)Waters of the state means any surface waters in the  
               state, including, but not limited to, coastal lakes,  
               lagoons and estuaries, rivers, streams, inland lakes and  
               reservoirs, wetlands, and marine waters, within the  
               boundaries of the state.
          

          SUPPORT
          City of Watsonville (co-sponsor)
          Karuk Tribe (co-sponsor)
          Save Our Shores
          Defenders of Wildlife
          City of Long Beach

          OPPOSITION
          None Received
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