Delta Tributaries Mercury Council (DTMC)

History

The Delta Tributaries Mercury Council (DTMC) has its origins in the Cache Creek Stakeholders Group which was initiated in 1995 in response to Cache Creek's status as an impaired stream due in large part to high mercury concentration. Prior monitoring had indicated very high mercury levels in lower reaches of Cache Creek and the Yolo Bypass which were carried downstream into the Delta and on to San Francisco Bay. In late 1995 the State Water Resources Control Board and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board were approached by the Colorado Center for Environmental Management with a proposal to initiate and facilitate a collaborative process to consider and help resolve some of the local problems of flood control and mine-impacted pollution in Cache Creek. A two year funding commitment for the program was provided by the Hewlett Foundation and USEPA. The first Stakeholder meeting was held in October 1996 and approximately 50 persons representing federal, state, county agencies and citizen organizations attended. Meetings were held approximately every 6 weeks thereafter. Speakers were invited to address the meetings on substantive issues and subcommittees were formed to investigate and report on relevant topics.

After 2 years the Cache Creek Stakeholders group reorganized, limiting concerns to flood control and related local topics in the Capay Valley. Meanwhile the Mercury Subcommittee had expanded its interests and activities to cover the whole Sacramento watershed area including Clear Lake and the Delta. Monitoring had indicated widespread mercury pollution and it seemed expedient for the Mercury Subcommittee to join forces with other groups and agencies interested in determining its origin and remediation. In June 1999 the Delta Tributaries Mercury Council was formed to expedite monitoring, determination of sites of mercury transformation and bioaccumulation and to assist in the establishment of mercury TMDLs in these regions.

In order to coordinate the activities dealing with mercury pollution in Northern California the Mercury Council in October 1999 voted to approve development of a website with funding for the first year to be provided by the Sacramento River Watershed Program and the U.S.EPA.

Draft Planning and Operating Document of the DTMC

Vision

To reduce mercury in fish and wildlife in the Delta and its tributaries to levels that no longer pose a human health or environmental hazard while promoting the long-term social and economic vitality of the region.

Mission

To bring together scientists, regulators, landowners, resources managers and users, to collaboratively develop and implement a strategic plan for the management of mercury in the Delta and its tributaries and monitor its effectiveness.

Objectives

The diverse stakeholders interested in and impacted by mercury contamination in the Delta and its tributaries have organized to create a forum 1) for outreach, education, and exchange of scientific data; 2) to identify opportunities to improve public policy on mercury management; and 3) to act as a sounding board for ideas. The group will promote, evaluate, critique integrate and actively participate in carrying out the following objectives:

  • Develop Goals and Targets. Identify, evaluate and recommend water quality goals and targets for mercury that are protective of human health and the environment (e.g. TMDL's, fish advisories, etc.)
  • Develop Models. Develop methods to evaluate remedial options and help to understand transport and fate of mercury and its compounds within the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Watershed system (Conceptual and analytical models).
  • Identify Sources Fate and Impact. Identify and evaluate source releases, distribution, transformation (e.g. methylation and demethylation) and uptake of mercury throughout the system and its impact on human health and the environment.
  • Identify Control Measures. Identify, develop and evaluate the effectiveness of remedial methods for modifying the release, distribution, transformation and uptake of mercury.
  • Develop Strategic Plan. Develop a plan to reduce relevant environmental mercury levels to meet identified goals and targets and reduce the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of mercury. (You can view the plan here)
  • Implement Strategic Plan. Implement the strategic plan, including monitoring to track its effective-ness and a feedback loop to revise the plan as new information becomes available.

The objectives established by the Delta Tributaries Mercury Council are not chronological. They will be developed through a parallel and collaborative process. DTMC member organizations are responsible for implementing the objectives, not the group as a whole.

Geographic Area of Focus

The scope of the group focuses on the Delta and its tributaries. Cache Creek was originally selected as a "pilot project" (see Bay Protection Cleanup Plan for justification) Study and implementation started there and has expanded to include other mercury enriched waterbodies in the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds.

Membership

The Delta Tributaries Mercury Council strives to be a diverse and inclusive group open to all interested parties. As such it does not limit membership. Stakeholder delegates have not been designated. A balance of representation in decision making depends on active participation from a variety of perspectives at regular meetings. A core group of participants have been active and consistent contributors to the group process. Participants in each meeting are listed in the minutes. A listing of various organizations and agencies participating in the DTMC follows at the end of this section

Decision Making

DTMC members will work towards reaching "consensus" on the issues addressed. Unless notified via email, all decisions will be made at the full DTMC meetings by those members present. The group will work through decisions, adopting one of the following levels of consensus as often as possible:

  • Level I. Everyone strongly supports the agreement.
  • Level II. Everyone can "live with" the outcome, though aspects of it may not be their first choice.
  • Level III. Everyone agrees to move forward despite remaining concerns.

Members agree to actively participate in decision making and take responsibility for voicing opposition. Lack of opposition may be interpreted as support for the decision. The "fall back" if consensus cannot be reached will be to require a 75% majority vote for a decision to be adopted by the group. In such cases, individual opinions may be documented if requested.

Meetings

Regular meetings of the DTMC are held approximately every eight  weeks. Meeting notices are emailed to all interested individuals. Check here for information on upcoming meetings, or agendas and minutes from past meetings.

Facilitation

The facilitator(s) serve at the will of the DTMC members. Facilitator(s) will seek to guide the discussions in a balanced and fair manner. Facilitators will guide members in discussions in a manner that keeps them focused, respectful, and within time limits agreed to in agendas.

Ground Rules

Members agree to follow and enforce with each other these ground rules. Alterations to the ground rules can be made at the full DTMC meetings.

  • Respect start and end times
  • Keep discussion focused
  • Give everyone a chance to speak
  • Be brief and to-the-point
  • Don't dominate the conversation
  • Don't interrupt
  • No side conversations
  • Share all relevant information
  • Everyone participate actively
  • Disagree openly

Document Review Process

The DTMC will review documents relevant to their mission as requested. Documents should be submitted in electronic form at least two weeks prior to a full DTMC meeting for discussion at the meeting. The Documents will not be a product of the DTMC. Individual review of relevant information may also be sought from the DTMC members via email.

Organizations and Agencies Represented in the DTMC

  • Cache Creek Conservancy
  • Cal EPA
  • CALFED Bay-Delta Program
  • Calif. Department of Conservation, Mines and Geology
  • Calif. Department of Fish and Game
  • Calif. Department of Water Resources Conservation
  • Calif. State University, Chico
  • Calif. State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)
  • Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB)
  • City of Sacramento
  • County of Sacramento
  • Electric Power Research Institute
  • G Fred Lee & Associates
  • Homestake Mining Company
  • Larry Walker Associates
  • MFG, Inc
  • Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District
  • San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (SFBRWQCB)
  • San Francisco Estuary Institute
  • Tetra Tech EM
  • U.C. Davis, Department of Environmental Science & Policy
  • U.C. Davis, Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Game
  • U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, NRCS
  • U.S. EPA
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District
  • Yolo County Health Department
  • Yolo County Planning/Public Works

Contact

Stephen A. McCord, Ph.D., P.E.
President, McCord Environmental, Inc.
Phone: 530-220-3165
Mail: 759 Bianco Court
Davis, CA 95616
sam@mccenv.com