City seeks ruling from regional water board in August

For years, the city of Eureka sent treated wastewater directly into Humboldt Bay from its Elk River processing plant.
But five years ago, the North Coast Regional Water Control Board ordered the city to “cease and desist” and to move to ocean discharge by 2030. The city is now seeking a resolution that would allow wastewater to continue to be discharged into the bay. The water board will meet in mid-August to decide.

Whether or not the city is granted the exemption to continue, there are plans in the works to make upgrades to the Elk River wastewater facility.

Surfrider, Humboldt Baykeeper, and EPIC argue the city needs to stop sending treated sewage into the bay and comply with the water board’s order to move to ocean discharge.

“We think that a discharge exemption is putting the cart before the horse. They need to vastly improve the wastewater treatment system to clean up that effluent before it could be determined whether it’s reasonable to continue discharging it into the bay,” Jennifer Kalt, the director of Humboldt Baykeeper, told the Times-Standard.

Read More

Once again, Humboldt County’s Clam Beach has been ranked as one of the state’s 10 worst beaches when it comes to water quality.
According to Heal The Bay’s 2020-21 beach report card, Clam Beach at Strawberry Creek is the seventh worst in the state. The environmental nonprofit’s Beach Bummer list ranks the state’s 10 most polluted beaches according to water sampling data.

Clam Beach has posted failing summer dry grades in seven out of the last 11 years Heal The Bay has published its report cards.

Humboldt Baykeeper director Jennifer Kalt said strong evidence indicates high levels of bacteria in the ocean waters can be linked to birds, as opposed to bacteria originating from cattle in the freshwater stream.

“Even though the levels of bacteria are high enough to get an F grade on the Beach Bummer list, the genetic analysis shows (the bacteria) is primarily from birds,” she said. “And so, in the ocean, you have the influence of birds because there’s so many birds at the beach.”

Kalt also pointed out the risk of bacteria from these sources is lower compared with bacteria coming from human sources, found in samples affected by septic runoff.

The number of bacteria coming from human feces is low in the streams.

“As far the freshwater goes in the creeks, there were very few human markers found, which means that (the contamination) is not coming from septic systems, which is what a lot of people think,” she elaborated.

Ginger recommends any beachgoers or concerned visitors stay safe from any potential danger by checking water quality updates at BeachReportCard.com, as water conditions can improve or worsen throughout the day, and sampling is done weekly. He also recommends staying 100 yards away from the mouth of Strawberry Creek when in the water.

“We just want folks to be aware of that and be cautious of the creek mouth whenever they’re out there, that’s going to be the best way to protect themselves,” he said.

Four other Humboldt County beaches which the county monitors posted passing grades. Mad River Beach’s northern mouth was awarded an A+ grade, while Little River State Beach at Moonstone County Park and Trinidad State Beach at Mill Creek were both given B grades. Luffenholtz Beach at Luffenholtz Creek received a C grade after appearing on the Beach Bummer list in 2017 and 2018.

Read More

Report: Most local fish, shellfish harmless in moderation

A new study assessing mercury accumulation in local fish and shellfish found most nearshore coastal species are safe to consume in moderation — with a few exceptions.A new study assessing mercury accumulation in local fish and shellfish found most nearshore coastal species are safe to consume in moderation — with a few exceptions.


The study, conducted by Humboldt Baykeeper between 2019 and 2020, took a look at the mercury levels in 70 individual fish across nine species including lingcod, several species of rockfish as well as Pacific and California halibut.


“This is our second study and we focused on fish caught in nearshore areas between Reading Rock and Cape Mendocino whereas our first study focused on fish caught in Humboldt Bay,” said Humboldt Baykeeper director Jennifer Kalt. “Pacific halibut was one species that a lot of the sport fishers wanted us to focus on because it’s such a popular fish, people are catching the living daylights out of it right now.”

Worried about the mercury content of your seafood? You should be! Mercury is a nasty heavy metal that can cause any number of serious health conditions if ingested in large enough quantity, and that’s especially true if you are a child or a woman who may be/get pregnant. Seafood is the principal way that it enters the human food chain.
But some species of fish are more dangerous than others, depending on their habitat and their place in the food chain. Over the years, Humboldt Baykeeper has conducted mercury sampling of local seafood and, after a new round of testing on the catch found of coastal waters — not just in Humboldt Bay — they’ve put out a new eater’s guide to bounty of the Humboldt seas.
Downloadable friendly versions of the charts for your phone:
Women <45 and Children
Women >45 and Men
Read More

 The county released an initial study and mitigated negative declaration (MND) for the project earlier this year. The document was circulated between April and May and received 324 comments surrounding the aforementioned concerns in addition to impacts from greenhouse gas emissions from refrigerants and fluorinated gases, energy use and transportation impacts.

Byron Turner, senior planner with Eureka-based engineering firm LACO Associates, said it became clear that “a project of this complexity” would warrant an EIR “if for no other reason than to provide a pathway to respond to those comments.”

“There’s no requirement for response to comments in an (MND), so that was one of the main reasons why we shifted gears,” he said. “This is the first part of the EIR process; the scoping period where we inform the agencies and the public that we’re drafting this document and we’re listening to environmental concerns. This is the listening and information gathering stage of the process.” The notice of preparation for Nordic’s draft EIR will be available until July 6 for public comment. A copy of the document can be found at https://humboldtgov.org/2347/Major-Projects.

Read More