Four bills by Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica) aimed at protecting Santa Monica Bay and other waterways from pollution cleared their first legislative hurdles this week.
The key measure--which for the first time establishes a state policy to curb ocean dumping--was approved on Monday by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee by an 8-3 margin and sent to the Ways and Means Committee.
"It was a major victory to get it out of this committee, which has not been the most pro-environment," Hayden said. "If this bill had been in place many years ago we would have had a far less severe problem in Santa Monica Bay."
Hayden said the proposal is the keystone of the package of seven bills he introduced earlier this year to limit ocean pollution. Three other bills approved this week would launch a study of fish contamination, increase publicity on fish toxicity and establish a marine research facility at Santa Monica Bay.
In addition to spelling out state policy on ocean pollution, the key bill would require that the state Water Resources Control Board adopt and regularly review water quality control plans for the ocean. As a matter of policy, the board already develops such plans but is not required to do so by state law.
The bill would direct the board to begin testing effluent discharged into the ocean to determine its impact on people and marine life.
The committee also approved 12 to 0 another Hayden bill that would require the state Fish and Game Commission to include health advisories about the toxicity of specific fish in its annual booklet on fishing regulations.
On Tuesday, the Natural Resources Committee also approved on an 8-3 vote and sent to the Ways and Means Committee a bill that would earmark $375,000 to begin a $1.3-million study of fish contamination.
On Wednesday, the Natural Resources Committee approved by a 7-0 vote and sent to the Ways and Means Committee another bill to set aside $2 million for a marine research facility at Santa Monica Bay to be operated by the California State University system.