Monterey Aquarium ruled exempt from wastewater disposal in Sanctuary

I noted several articles yesterday about the above topic, and was intrigued. I admit, I have not done my own research, as my time is extremely limited at the moment, but both sources, huffingtonpost and abclocal/kgo are pretty reliable sources of information, although I note that both rely on an article written by Susanne Rust for California Watch. However, both links provided below have an internal link to a pdf report from the State Resources Control Board you can download.

“Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board exempted the aquarium [PDF] from a state ban on dumping wastewater in a marine protected zone.

The board decided the aquarium’s conservation and public education benefits far outweigh any dangers posed by the millions of gallons of treated fish, bird and mammal waste it dumps back into the bay.

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s beneficial uses include extensive public outreach and education on the marine environment, basic water quality research, and research to determine the needs and improve the quality of existence for marine life,” said David Clegern, a spokesman for the water board.

According to a report [PDF] released by the board earlier this year, the aquarium takes in about 1,400 gallons of seawater a minute, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It then discharges more than 2 million gallons a day. The system is open, meaning seawater is pumped in and discharged continually.

The board acknowledges the discharge does contain waste, albeit “at very low levels.” The only exceptions noted were copper in one seawater sample and chlorine in others.

Copper is known to be harmful to marine organisms, damaging creatures’ gills, livers, kidneys and nervous systems. Chlorine can be lethal to many organisms, including salmon and oysters, at low levels. (

The same article by Susanne Rust for California Watch, is also posted to:

3 thoughts on “Monterey Aquarium ruled exempt from wastewater disposal in Sanctuary

  1. Excellent example of allowing Lucille Packard and the Foundation to purchase the Pacific Ocean and then turn right around and pollute it at their whim while the rest of commerce would suffer endless penalties and backlash. Such hypocrisy.

  2. It does seem an example of why OWS is hitting a chord with so many of us – how some individuals, corporations, foundations, seem exempt from the same laws that the rest of us are subject too. I don’t know enough about the exemption to have an “informed” opinion, yet. I do have an opinion, but I do not yet consider myself sufficiently informed to voice it. I am hoping XT will cover this issue in his blog, as he will be well informed when he does!

  3. To clarify, and correct some errors in Suzanne Rust’s article:

    The aquarium did NOT receive an “exemption” from state discharge requirements; it received an “exception” based on the high quality of water it returns to the ocean, and the extensive testing that water undergoes before it can be returned.

    The “wastewater” is seawater piped in from Monterey Bay and returned to the bay a few hours later after circulatin­g through the aquarium’s exhibits to sustain 35,000 sea creatures: from giant kelp and strawberry anemones, to sharks, shorebirds and sardines.

    It undergoes around 20,000 water quality tests each year, conducted both in the aquarium’s own water quality lab and in state-certified labs. It is, for the most part, cleaner when it returns to the ocean than it was when it came into the aquarium hours earlier.

    Aside from rain runoff, all of our freshwater waste goes into municipal sewer lines for treatment, including the water we use to hose down our awnings and sidewalks, which we capture and divert before it makes it into storm drains and flows into the bay.

    Ken Peterson, Communicat­ions Director
    Monterey Bay Aquarium

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