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Feasibility Study of Shore-Based Ballast Water Reception and Treatment Facilities in California


Final Report

Final Report by Chapter


Meeting # 3 - October 20, 2017

Public Meeting Notice

Review Materials for the October 20 Public Meeting

Video of October 20 Public Meeting

Independent Review Panel Report, 9/11/2017

Public Comments


Independent Review Panel Response to Interim Memorandum

          Review Panel Response


Interim Memorandum

Shore-Based Ballast Water Treatment in California Memorandum on Scale-up of Land-based and barge-based Alternatives

Meeting # 2 - August 30, 2016

Public Meeting Notice
Review Materials for August 30 Public Meeting
Public Comments
Ballast Water Review Panel Report No. 2


Meeting # 1 - October 6, 2015

Public Meeting Notice
Materials for Review and Focus Questions for October 6 Public Meeting
Video of October 6 Public Meeting
Public Comments
Ballast Water Review Panel Report No. 1
Glosten Associate’s Response To Panel Report No.1
Literature Review - Glosten Associates


Background: San Francisco Bay and the Delta are often described as the most invaded estuary in the world. In coastal and estuarine environments, the ballast water of commercial ships has long been recognized as one of the most important mechanisms, or "vectors," through which nonindigenous species are moved to new locations throughout the world. The Asian overbite clam (Potamocorbula amurensis) is an example of a non-native, invasive species presumed to have been introduced to the Bay-Delta ecosystem via ballast water. The clam has had profound effects on the food web in the western portions of the Delta and Suisun Bay.


Ballast water is used as a balancing and weight distribution tool necessary for the navigation, stability, and propulsion of large seagoing ships. Vessels may take on, discharge, or redistribute ballast water during cargo loading and unloading, as they encounter rough seas, or as they transit through shallow waterways. Typically, a vessel takes on ballast water after cargo is unloaded in one port to compensate for the weight imbalance, and will later discharge that ballast water when cargo is loaded in another port. This transfer of ballast water from "source" to "destination" ports results in the movement of thousands of species throughout the globe on a daily basis. Once established, these species can cause significant environmental, economic, and human health impacts. A recent estimate suggests that invasive species are responsible for $120 billion in losses and damages annually in the United States (Pimental et al. 2005).


Rationale for the Study: Delta Plan Policy ER P5 addresses non-native species as a major obstacle to successful restoration of the Delta ecosystem, because they affect the survival, health, and distribution of native Delta wildlife and plants. There is little chance of eradicating most non-native species, once established. Therefore, the Policy intends to prevent additional invasions by non-native species and calls for the ecosystem to be managed in ways that minimize the impacts of invasive species that have already become established.


California law (Public Resources Code Section 71205.3) requires the California State Lands Commission (CSLC) to implement performance standards for the discharge of ballast water into State waters. Vessels may comply with the performance standards through retention of all ballast water on board the vessel, use of ballast water treatment technologies, or discharge of ballast water to a reception facility approved by the Commission. At this time, on-board treatment systems have been unable to meet the stringent interim performance standards, and despite the fact that the discharge of ballast water to shore-based reception facilities is an approved method for vessels to comply with California's performance standards, there are currently no operational ballast water reception facilities in California.


The Commission asked the Delta Stewardship Council to manage the preparation and independent review of a feasibility study of the potential use of shore-based ballast water reception and treatment facilities in California to meet California's interim performance standards for the discharge of ballast water (see Title 2 California Code of Regulations Section 2293). The study will culminate in the production of a report detailing the potential of this method to meet the needs of regulated vessels to comply with California's interim performance standards.


The Council will receive information to better understand how the feasibility study will contribute to a potentially broader and effective range of treatment options designed to achieve California's performance standards. When completed, the study may suggest actions that could be taken to further improve the prevention of non-native species introductions via shipping vessels. These may provide the basis for the Council to incorporate appropriate language in updates of the Delta Plan.


The charge to the panel provides the orientation and focus, materials to be reviewed and specific questions for the panel to start the review process. It provides the direction, context and timeline for the review.

Charge to the Panel


Review Panel Members:

William (Bill) J. Cooper, Ph.D.,,University of California, Irvine, (Panel Chair)
Audrey D Levine, Ph.D., (Lead Author)
Christine M Moffitt, Ph.D., University of Idaho
Steven C. Hackett, Ph.D., Humboldt State University
Rick Harkins, P.E


Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)