Last week, TSF’s Program Director Carrie Monohan presented our Headwater Mercury Source Reduction (HMSR) Strategy to members of the Delta Tributaries Mercury Council (DTMC). The HMSR Strategy outlines four strategic targets to abate the impacts of mercury- from the Sierra to the sea. It was the focus of our October 2019 Reclaiming the Sierra Conference, and in 2020 we are working to increase the visibility of this important regional approach to legacy impacts of the Gold Rush.
DTMC brings together scientists, regulators, landowners, resource managers, water purveyors, and interested citizens to work collaboratively to address mercury in the Bay-Delta. In 2016, the Bay-Delta Mercury Strategy Synthesis identified that no cleanup for mercury in the Bay-Delta would be successful without upstream source control.
Mercury was used extensively at mines during the 19th century Gold Rush, and contamination of soil, water, and the aquatic food web is widespread from the headwaters to the San Francisco Bay as a result. TSF has developed an in-depth understanding of the fate and transport of mercury, and with our network of technical experts have identified four targets for addressing mercury in California’s mining-impacted headwaters: (1) Hydraulic Mines and Mine Features, (2) Mercury in Forest and Land Management, (3) Mercury-Contaminated Sediment in Reservoirs, and (4) Mercury Exposure via Fish Consumption. Prioritizing pilot projects to address each of these targets and identifying best available technologies for mercury abatement is key to implementing actions that will make a lasting difference.
It is critical that we continue to engage downstream stakeholders as we build a coalition to address mercury discharge at its source, and participating in the DTMC provides a perfect platform for doing so.