Toxics TMDL

Marina Photo

Marina del Rey Harbor is currently designated as an “impaired” water body on the 303(d) list issued under the 1972 Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act established regulations and mechanisms to clean up the Nation’s polluted waterways, which included provisions for Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). A TMDL puts a limit on the amount of pollutant a receiving water body can accept in order to protect its beneficial uses. In the Marina del Rey Harbor, a Toxic Pollutants TMDL was developed by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) to set limits on contaminants entering the harbor water column and sediment.  The contaminants addressed in the Toxic Pollutants TMDL are summarized in the table below.

Media Contaminants
Sediment Copper, lead, zinc, chlordane, PCBs, total DDTs, and p,p’-DDE
Water Column Dissolved copper and PCBs
Fish Tissue Total PCBs


Dissolved copper is a major issue in the Marina del Rey Harbor as well as other marinas along the coast. The leading cause of dissolved copper pollution in marinas is from copper-based antifouling paints. Antifouling paints are used to prevent marine growth on surfaces, particularly boat hulls, yet the majority of these antifouling paints contain copper that leaches into the surrounding water causing pollution issues. The Toxics TMDL regulates the amount of copper going into the harbor.

The TMDL is enforced through the assignment of waste load allocations and load allocations by the Regional Board to different permittees. The permittees named in the TMDL include the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, the City of Culver City, as well as the anchorages and boat owners in the Marina del Rey Harbor.

More information on the Marina del Rey Harbor Toxics TMDL can be found on the Regional Board’s website here.

Click here for more information on the TMDL relative to boaters.

Click here for more information on the copper impairment in the harbor.


What is the County of Los Angeles doing to remedy the Copper Issue?

Special Studies

The County has completed several special studies to better understand the Marina del Rey Harbor physical, chemical and biological processes related to water quality. Additional special studies are planned or in the process of being completed.

Click here for information on the special studies.

Boat Hull Paint Conversion

The County participated in a collaborative effort with the Port of San Diego, the California State Parks Division of Boating & Waterways, and the California Coastal Commission to develop a guide for selecting boat hull paint based on boater habits and environmental awareness. The primary goal of this guide is to provide the boating community with useful information for the selection of hull paints to help promote the conversion to low leach rate copper, non-copper and non-toxic paints.

Click here for more information on boat hull paints.

Boat Hull Cleaning Ordinance

The County is developing an ordinance that will require in-water hull cleaners to use best management practices (BMPs) for all in-water activities. Using BMPs during in-water hull cleaning has been shown to dramatically reduce contaminant loading of pollutants such as copper to the water column and sediment from boat hull paints.

Boat Lift Program

Boat lifts are devices used to raise a boat out of the water while it is docked in a slip. They help protect the boat from marine growth, corrosion, and other potential damage, such as electrolysis. Boat lifts greatly reduce or even eliminate hull maintenance requirements, including in-water hull cleaning and periodic painting, which can save the boat owner money, increase the resale value and extend the lifespan of the boat.

Boat lifts can be used as an alternative to antifouling paints to prevent algae, barnacles, and other encrusting organisms from developing on the hull by keeping the boat out of the water while in the slip. The use of boat lifts typically reduces loading of copper and other contaminants to the marine environment since the boat lifts do not require chemical protection from fouling growth.

The County is planning implementation of a boat lift program to provide lifts for use by interested boaters at Anchorage 47.

Click here for more information on boat lifts.

For more information on how to get involved with LA County’s Copper Pollution Reduction Programs click here.

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