PWC ban reconsidered at California reservoir

MORGAN HILL, Calif. – Officials in Northern California are reconsidering a ban on personal watercraft on Anderson Reservoir that has been in effect for the past six years, the Gilroy Dispatch reported yesterday.

The ban was put in place due to the gasoline additive MTBE, but the chemical has now been removed from California gasoline, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Dept. are rethinking the restrictions, according to the newspaper.

Environmentalists are lobbying to keep the ban in place. The Bluewater Network, a San Francisco-based environmentalist group, has sent nearly 600 letters to the county from California residents and beyond with concerns about the impacts of PWC on wildlife and personal safety, the newspaper reported.

Sean Smith, public lands director for the Bluewater Network, mentioned concerns that four other chemicals – benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene and xylene – would get into the water supply through the traditional two-stroke engines.

Mike DiMarco, spokesman for the water district, told the newspaper that tests from the last five years didn’t reveal any contamination from those chemicals, but that didn’t convince Smith.

“If they look after heavy use, they will find those pollutants,” Smith said. “If they can’t find [the chemicals] they are either not looking in the right place, or are looking too long after watercraft use.”

The water district will monitor the water level closely, DiMarco said.

“We will test at least once a month,” he said. “We will especially test following a holiday weekend.”

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