SM BAY — The California State Water Resources Control Board decided not to decide.

On Oct. 18, the board was going to determine the fate of areas across California’s coastline that have been protected from harmful discharges by the California Ocean Plan since 1983.

Since 2004, 27 entities have requested the ability to release liquids into the protected areas. The majority of the requests came from municipal, state and federal government agencies.

The board intended to make a decision on all of those proposals; whether the board would continue to prohibit discharges, or allow discharges for some or all of the agencies if they complied with environmental regulations.

However, the date of decision-making has been put off until January, said David Clegern, public information officer for the State Water Board.

No official date has been set, he said.

Because the board had never officially encountered a similar issue before, the members might have been hesitant to make a decision, Clegern said.

“This is the first time this has come up, and it’s not unusual for things like this to get put over,” Clegern said.

When facing a new decision, the board often takes extra time to consult research and experts, and some board members felt that all their questions had not been adequately answered, he said.

“A lot of times the board members simply want to make sure the Is have been dotted and the Ts have been crossed,” he added.

Although the board postponed the larger decision on the 27 discharge exemptions, they made three specific discharge exemptions, said Clegern.

They were all exemptions that have to be redocumented every few years, and had been before the board before, he said.

“Those are fairly routine,” he said.

The entities requesting discharge exemption were Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Humboldt State University Marine Lab, which were all allowed to continue discharging in their areas.

“The marine labs are mostly using sea water,” Clegern said.

The labs and aquarium pull in water from the ocean for their purposes, and then pipe it back into the sea, usually cleaning it before discharging it, Clegern said.

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