We’ll take just water, please. Hold the selenium.

Petitions have been filed asking the State Water Resources Control board to reconsider its October resolution approving a Basin Plan for the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins that did not adequately address selenium control in the San Joaquin river basin.

Petitions have been filed by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the California Water Impact Network, AquAlliance, and a group of Environmental Advocates consisting of the Southern California Watershed Alliance, the North Coast Rivers Alliance, the Planning and Conservation League, Friends of the Trinity River, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Sierra Club California, and Friends of the River.

Says the petition by Environmental Advocates, “Resolution 2010-0046 refuses to effectively address partially regulated and the unregulated discharges of pollutants from adjacent and north Westside upslope areas into the Grasslands Watershed.”

Grasslands drainers have a joint powers agreement with the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority allowing groundwater to be pumped to the surface and discharged in the San Joaquin river via the federal San Luis Drain and Mud Slough.

The discharged water contains a number of chemicals, including selenium, that have been identified by EPA as pollutants.  The petitions assert that selenium occurs at levels toxic to fish, wildlife, and humans who rely on the San Joaquin River for a domestic water supply.

Byron Buck, Executive Director of the State and Federal Contractors Water Agency, thinks we’re overly emotional when we describe selenium-loaded irrigation drainage water as “toxic.”

So let’s just say that anyone ingesting selenium – an essential micronutrient – should be doing it only by choice.  Because too much selenium can make fish, birds, and people very, very, very sick.

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