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Sacramento River Watershed Report Released

Aug 23, 2003

For immediate release

Latest scientific information about the quality in the Sacramento River watershed is the subject of a report issued by the Sacramento River Watershed Program (SRWP) this month. The fourth annual Water Quality Monitoring Report provides an important regional look at water quality issues in the Sacramento River Basin.

The report documents that the main stem of the Sacramento River and its major tributaries meet most water quality goals and standards for protection of aquatic life and drinking water uses. This finding is consistent with results obtained by the SRWP monitoring performed since the program was initiated in 1997. The report also finds that measures of aquatic life health in monitored tributaries are also positive.

Concerns identified in the report focus on mercury and aquatic toxicity at specific locations. The report finds that mercury concentrations in fish tissue, collected from the mainstem Sacramento River below Shasta Reservoir and from some major tributaries to this section of the river, continue to be a source of concern.

“The report indicates that human health concerns exist for the consumption of some fish species from the lower Sacramento River watershed,” said SRWP Program Coordinator Kathy Russick. “Although there is substantial uncertainty regarding the level of risk posed by these concentrations of mercury in fish, there is agreement that the risks are greatest for small children and pregnant women, and that the risks increase with a greater consumption of fish.”

The report notes that general consumption guidelines are provided by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) on their web page (

“The levels of mercury that we are finding in certain locations in the watershed indicate a need for further mercury monitoring in the watershed,” said Russick. “We also need to continue monitoring pesticides to track changes that are occurring in both urban and agricultural use of pesticides.”

The year four Annual Monitoring Report presents data generated during 1997-2002 by the SRWP and from various periods for programs coordinating with the SRWP. The water quality data collected by the program includes mercury (in water and fish tissue), trace metals in water, pesticides, drinking water parameters of concern, toxicity to aquatic organisms and rapid bioassessment monitoring results.

The Report can be viewed on the SRWP web site at: .

The Sacramento River Watershed Program, which has now been established as a not-for-profit public benefit organization, was initiated in February of 1996 to provide a forum to ensure that Sacramento River watershed resources are sustained, restored, and where possible, enhanced, while promoting the long-term social and economic vitality of the region. The SRWP consists of citizens, watershed organizations, environmental groups, farmers, ranchers, foresters, business groups, educators and government agencies at all levels.

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