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Meetings set to discuss limits on lake, river pollutants

Published Feb. 24, 2004


Government officials will be in Klamath Falls Thursday to discuss establishment of pollution limits for Lake Ewauna, the Klamath River and Lost River.

Setting the limits is expected to be a two-year process that could carry repercussions for all residents in the Klamath Falls area - that is, anyone who is a customer of the city or suburban sewer system.

A public meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Klamath County Courthouse basement meeting room, 316 Main St.

There will also be meetings in Yreka on Wednesday and in Fortuna on March 2.

Attending the meetings will be representatives of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the California North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The three agencies will work together to establish total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs, for the Klamath and Lost Rivers, said Matt St. John of the California water quality board.

TMDLs are the amounts of various pollutants that can be allowed in a water body.

The federal Clean Water Act of 1972 requires states to identify waterbodies that are not meeting water quality standards, and develop a plan to attain and maintain desired water quality standards, St. John said.

The Oregon DEQ and the California water quality board are working to develop TMDLs for the Lost River, Klamath Straits Drain, and the Klamath River from the Link River to the Pacific Ocean.

The TMDL process for the rivers should be done in December of 2005, according to the California water quality board's Web site.

The rivers have temperature and nutrient loading problems, according to the agencies. And, in some places, there also problems with dissolved oxygen, ammonia and bacteria.

Officials at the city of Klamath Falls and the South Suburban Sanitary District have said they may be forced to upgrade sewer facilities at substantial cost to meet any new TMDL requirements.

TMDLs for Upper Klamath Lake were established in August 2002.

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