In 1972, the State Water Board adopted the California Ocean Plan (Ocean Plan) as the State’s water quality control plan for ocean waters. Shortly after adoption of the 1972 Ocean Plan, the State Water Board designated 34 Areas of Special Biological Significance (ASBS), comprising approximately one-third of the State’s coastline, including the Duxbury Reef ASBS. For more detail about the State’s ASBS program and a map of the 34 protected areas, visit the State Water Resources Board ASBS website.
An ASBS supports an unusual variety of aquatic life, and often host unique individual species, therefore they are considered the basic building blocks for a sustainable, resilient coastal environment and economy. Since 1983 The Ocean Plan has prohibited waste discharges to an ASBS and states that “discharges shall be located a sufficient distance from such designated areas to assure maintenance of natural water quality conditions in these areas.” This absolute waste discharge prohibition applies unless an “exception” is granted.
As of January 2005, ASBS areas were re-designated as a subset of “State Water Quality Protection Areas” (SWQPAs) that require special protection.
Section 36700(f) of the Public Resources Code defines a state water quality protection area as “a non-terrestrial marine or estuarine area designated to protect marine species or biological communities from an undesirable alteration of natural water quality, including but not limited to, areas of special biological significance that have been designated by the State Water Board through its water quality control planning process.”
The State issued Marin a Stormwater Permit which includes references to ASBS. In response, the County of Marin updated their County Stormwater Ordinance - Chapter 23.18 Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention.