Something in the Water
Central Coast has the biggest share of polluted surface waters in the state.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Chlorpyrifos, diazinon and polychlorinated biphenyls now join fecal coliforms and nitrates among the 13 pollutants that put the lower Salinas River on California Environmental Protection Agency’s 303(d) list of impaired waterways.
Cal EPA’s 2010 list, finalized Oct. 11, shows a 170 percent increase in the number of toxic rivers, streams and lakes since the last report in 2006, a spike mostly explained by increased monitoring. More than half the state’s 3 million water acres and 14 percent of its 215,000 river and shoreline miles now fail to meet state water goals, Cal EPA reports.
The lower Salinas is one of a dozen waterways in Monterey County that made the latest 303(d) list. Chualar Creek has the worst of it, but Alisal Slough, Espinosa Slough, Gabilan Creek, Merrit Ditch, Natividad Creek, Old Salinas River, Quail Creek, Salinas Reclamation Canal, the middle Salinas River and Tembladero Slough share the dubious honors.
Most of the pollutants plaguing Central Coast waterways are nitrates and pesticides associated with agricultural use.
Roger Briggs, executive officer of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, says our region has the highest percentage of toxic surface waters in the state. “A lot of food is produced here,” he says, “but the collateral damage is to our surface water and groundwater.”