April 12, 2017
Dear San Lorenzo Water District Board of Directors,
RE: Brooms and Acacia Management Plan for the Olympia Watershed
As a member of the Environmental Committee I have participated in the discussions of the Invasive Brooms and Acacia Management Plan for the Olympia Wellfield. I would like to summarize the reasons why I disagree with this plan.
The Water District “Watershed Management Plan” states that it will “Contribute to the control of herbicide and pesticide use in the greater San Lorenzo River watershed.” (EH 2 P 15 of part II). Further, in Policy WQ1-DL7 it aims to “reduce the maximum extent feasible, the introduction of herbicides, pesticides, and chemicals into the water supply by minimizing and controlling the use of these constituents, and implementing “alternative methods for pest control.”
In the SLV and North Coast Watershed Sanitary Survey of 2013, Kennedy/Jenks Consultants state “there is pervasive sensitivity to chemical use and general public sentiment opposed to such use.”
This Invasive Broom Plan calls for applying the herbicide Roundup/Glyphosate on over 19,000 plants within a 180-acre area. That amount of herbicide doesn’t come close to not “minimizing its use,” nor is it being sensitive to the public opposition of such use.
It should also be noted that the Watershed Management Plan states that the “Olympia Watershed value as a groundwater source was the District’s sole reason for purchasing the property.” While other objectives for this property may be worthy, the top priority must be to maintain safe drinking water.
During the Environmental Committee meetings I have presented information relating to the dangers of using the herbicide Roundup. Much of this is new information. First, the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 listed glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” That finding caused a number of reactions, some of which are: our neighbor to the north, the Marin Municipal Water District, voted unanimously to ban the use of glyphosate in its watershed; our neighbor to the south, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, voted unanimously to prohibit glyphosate on its property; and, a California Superior Court Judge ruled against Monsanto, the producer of glyphosate, who must now label Roundup “as a possible carcinogen.”
In our Environmental Committee meetings it was stated that if Roundup is a risk factor to humans, that, in itself, would be the most important concern. Risk factor being exposure plus toxicity.
A recent EPA Glyphosate Issue Paper: Evolution of Carcinogenic Potential, stated that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” Yet, further back in that report it also states that “the data should be considered limited though with only one or two studies available for almost all the cancer types investigated, need for more recent studies since a large number of studies were conducted prior to 1996.” Since then Roundup use has increased greatly.
That EPA ruling is not without controversy and doubt is being raised about its accuracy. California congressman Ted Lieu is now calling for an investigation and Congressional hearings due to the highly suspicious relationship between EPA official, Jess Rowland, and Monsanto. A recently released letter from a 30-year EPA scientist concluded that it “is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer.’
There are now over 700 Roundup cancer claims. Lawsuits assert that multiple studies on Roundup and glyphosate have been ghost written in part, and/or, published by, Monsanto, to minimize the safety concerns about the use of glyphosate. This becomes a question of trust, not just science. Legal and political concerns should be part of this decision as well.
It is within the SLV Watershed Management Plan to minimize herbicide use, to look for safe alternatives and to seek new information. I believe that there is enough information to convince this board to avoid using glyphosate in the Olympia Watershed, or, to at least raise a reasonable doubt about its safety.
Water quality is far too important to jeopardize with an herbicide that raises this much doubt. Roundup should not be used in our watershed. If this plan goes through it will undermine public confidence in the water it drinks.
Ben Lomond, CA
Save Our Shores
345 Lake Ave # A,
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Sierra Club, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA 95061-0604
Coastal Watershed Council - San Lorenzo River
345 Lake Avenue, Suite F
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Assemblymember, Mark Stone
Representative, Anna Eshoo
John Laird, California Natural Resources Agency