by David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News January 5, 2011
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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EPA approves Klamath River TMDLs
Klamath River — Hailing the event as the approval of a “historic salmon restoration plan” for the Klamath River, a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) press release states that that agency has approved the action plan for the Klamath River’s Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).
The issue of TMDLs has stirred controversy in Siskiyou County as agencies such as the EPA and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB) formulated a plan for the control of pollutants ejected into the Klamath to protect various uses.
TMDLs set the maximum amount of a pollutant or condition that has been identified as a stressor on fish populations, recreational use or municipal water supplies, among other identified “beneficial uses.”
According to the EPA release, the action plan aims to reduce, in the California portion of the river, 57 perent of phosphorous, 32 percent of nitrogen and 16 percent of carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (CBOD) through the identification and restriction of pollution sources, described in the Klamath TMDLs as agricultural runoff, municipal sources, timber activities and the state line between Oregon and California.
The state line has been a point of contention raised by the county at many of the public forums held during the TMDLs’ formation – with an estimated 45 percent of phosphorous, 37 percent of nitrogen and 27 percent of CBOD entering California from Oregon, according to the pollutant analysis conducted by the NCRWQCB.
According to the EPA release, the Oregon Department of Water Quality released its TMDLs plan on Dec. 21, 2010, which is expected to be acted upon by EPA’s Northwest region this month.
Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region, states in the release, “‘This historic Klamath River plan charts the path to restoring one of our nation’s largest, most scenic and biologically important watersheds. By establishing clear benchmarks and accountability this plan will ensure that Klamath River can thrive long into the future.”
The feelings expressed at Tuesday’s Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meeting were not celebratory, with District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff stating that he believes the Klamath TMDLs action plan is a “manipulated” document. That comment, and others made by the county in the past year, have been made in reference to utility company PacifiCorp’s contention that its hydrological modeling had been changed to exaggerate its dams’ effects on the river’s pollutant and temperature levels.
According to the release, actions are expected to be undertaken soon to meet the goals set in the TMDLs for the Klamath, which has been listed as an impaired water body under the Clean Water Act since 1992.
– David Smith can be reached at email@example.com
Page Updated: Thursday January 06, 2011 04:04 AM Pacific
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