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Pillar Point Harbor Fecal Pollution Study

Pillar Point Harbor Fecal Pollution Study

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Published by Sabrina Brennan
“Identification of Sources of Fecal Pollution Impacting Pillar Point Harbor” is a project of the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District (RCD), funded by the State Water Resources Control Board.
“Identification of Sources of Fecal Pollution Impacting Pillar Point Harbor” is a project of the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District (RCD), funded by the State Water Resources Control Board.

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Published by: Sabrina Brennan on Jan 05, 2012
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Identification of Sources of Fecal Pollution Impacting Pillar Point Harbor
Project Description
“Identification of Sources of Fecal Pollution Impacting Pillar Point Harbor” is a project of theSan Mateo County Resource Conservation District (RCD), funded by the State Water Resources Control Board. The goal of this project is to assess and identify sources of fecal pollution in Pillar Point Harbor and recommend opportunities for remediation.Water will be sampled in select locations and tested for the presence and abundance of  bacteria that occur with fecal pollution, and bacteria samples will be genetically tested todetermine their original host source. The primary focus is Capistrano Beach, which has welldocumented levels of fecal pollution. The secondary focus is the five other beaches andliveaboard boats in the harbor.Specific objectives for implementation of water quality remediation projects will bedeveloped based on research and analysis. The project will identify constraints, impediments,opportunities, and priorities to remediate water quality on the beaches in Pillar Point Harbor and cost-effective, feasible water quality improvement projects. It develops a timeline for implementing the proposed methods to achieve water quality objectives and the partiesresponsible, as well as a monitoring plan and performance measures to track implementationof projects.These investigations and the resulting prioritized recommendations are essential for a second phase to implement projects to improve water quality at public beaches in the Pillar PointHarbor. Stakeholders are committed to a second phase in which they pursue implementationof these recommendations and recognize this first phase as an essential step toward that end.Stakeholders value that the overall vision of this project is to reduce the number of days thatthe beaches are posted or closed, requiring implementation of proposed projects.
The project study area is the Pillar Point Outer Harbor in El Granada, California (seeAttachment A: Map of Project Location). The geographical focus extends to any potentialdrainages and/or pollution sources which empty into or otherwise impact the harbor and its beaches, such as creeks, marshes, storm drains, sewer systems, runoff, leach fields, springs,wells, boat discharge, pet and avian fecal contamination, sediment, and wrack.
Pillar Point Harbor is an enclosed watershed with complex inputs and water flows. It containsan inner boat harbor, pier, and saltwater/brackish tidal marsh (Pillar Point Marsh). It receivesdrainage from Denniston and Deer Creeks, storm drains, outflow pipes, and large, mixed useareas including an airport, agricultural, commercial and residential sections. Pillar Point
 Pillar Point Harbor Project DescriptionUpdated June 21, 2011 p. 1 of 11
Harbor contains five beaches: Capistrano Beach, Yacht Club Beach, Marsh Beach, MavericksBeach, Inner Harbor Beach, and Beach House Beach.Pillar Point Harbor comprises an inner harbor and outer harbor. The inner harbor berths 180commercial fishing vessels and approximately 200 recreational boats, and is encompassedwithin the much larger outer harbor area. The harbor area houses commercial venturesincluding several restaurants, hotels, shops, a fertilizer plant, three commercial fish buyers,sport fishing concessions, a yacht club, two kayak rental companies, a recreational vehicle park, and an Air Force facility situated on the bluff overlooking the Outer Harbor. Outside of the Outer Harbor area but within the project study area are conference facilities, residentialareas, and additional commercial ventures as well as a pump station for the Sewer AuthorityMid-coastsideThe project area is also within the boundaries of the James V. Fitzgerald Marine ReserveCritical Coastal Area (CCA) Pilot Project. The marine reserve is a designated Area of SpecialBiological Significance and the CCA pilot project, jointly administered by the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Coastal Commission, is to foster collaborationamong local stakeholders and government agencies to better coordinate resources and focusefforts on coastal watersheds in critical need of protection from polluted runoff. The CCAwill develop an action plan to reduce non-point source pollution by 2010 and intends tocoordinate closely with this project to identify and remediate sources of fecal contaminationin Pillar Point Harbor.
The public health impact of the impaired waters may impact commercial ventures, harbor activities, tourism, recreation, ecological habitat, and sources of drinking water for municipalutilities in the watershed. The harbor area has approximately 100,000 visitors annually and isheavily used recreationally by boating enthusiasts, kayakers, windsurfers, campers, hikers,dog walkers, bird watchers, swimmers, waders, families, clam diggers, surfers, and thousandsof spectators for the world famous Mavericks big wave surf break.Pillar Point Harbor water quality chronically is so poor that the State Water ResourcesControl Board recently listed the location as impaired by coliform bacteria on the 303(d) listsubmitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Capistrano Beach haselevated levels of fecal indicator bacteria, such as E. coli and Enterococcus on over 95% of sampling events in wet and dry conditions. This beach has been ranked for several years bythe Heal the Bay's Report Card as a “Beach Bummer,” meaning that it is in the top ten most polluted beaches in California in dry weather conditions. In 2005/2006, Capistrano Beachranked sixth on the “Beach Bummer” list. It was the worst ranked beach in NorthernCalifornia and is a Clean Beaches Task Force Priority Beach with regard to fecal pollution.Capistrano Beach is permanently posted by the San Mateo County Environmental HealthDepartment as a potential health hazard.In 2005 and 2006, San Mateo County Department of Environmental Health repeatedly posted beaches in the Harbor as potential health hazards. Capistrano Beach was posted mostfrequently, approximately 50 weeks in each year. Marsh Beach was posted over 20 weeks in
 Pillar Point Harbor Project Description June 2011 p. 2 of 11
each year, 42% to 51% of sampling events. Mavericks Beach was posted approximately 15weeks each year, approximately 30% of sampling events. The county terminated samplingfor Capistrano Beach and permanently posted the beach as a potential health hazard in Marchof 2006.Within the local community there are numerous opinions as to the primary sources of fecal pollution impacting the harbor, including human contamination from leaking sewer lines,avian contamination from resident and migratory bird populations including large flocks of gulls and other birds, and lack of flushing in the harbor due to the presence of two breakwalls.Although much effort has been expended on studying the locations of fecal pollutionimpacting the harbor, including water sampling and fecal indicator enumeration studies, dataon identification of primary sources and their relative contributions to the overall magnitudeof the pollution problem are lacking. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive study of allof the possible sources of pollution in this watershed and how these flows interact in theconfines of the enclosed Pillar Point Harbor bay.
The RCD is a non-regulatory public benefit district to help people protect, conserve, andrestore natural resources through information, education, and technical assistance programs.For this project, the RCD is responsible for administration, project management, and outreachas described in the Scope of Work, and is ultimately responsible for the quality of the projectdeliverables. This includes hiring consultants for technical expertise in hydrology, geology,microbial source tracking, and laboratory work.A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), including a Lead Researcher, guides andcontributes expertise to all aspects of the project. The TAC meets several times per year as agroup, while subgroups and individuals may contribute expertise to the project as needs andopportunities arise. The Lead Researcher will provide oversight for the design of the researchcomponents of the project. The TAC establishes appropriate methodology to identify thesources of fecal pollution and recommends strategies for remediation. As such, expertise onthe TAC includes harbor function and infrastructure, wastewater treatment function andinfrastructure, abatement of fecal indicator bacteria, hydrology and geology, microbiology, public health, microbial source tracking, and water quality (see Attachment B: TechnicalAdvisory Committee).
Task 1: Administer and Manage Project (8/07- 12/12).
Work on this project was underway when the State Water Resources Control Boardissued notice to stop work in December 2008 due to the state’s economic crisis. Theproject was delayed over a year and data collection was interrupted mid-season,disrupting the sampling plan and scope of work for the project. The RCD obtained anextension on the timeline and additional funds to restart data collection. The scope of work in this document begins with the original beginning date and continues through theamended completion date, and contains the revised sampling plan.
 Pillar Point Harbor Project Description June 2011 p. 3 of 11

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