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EPA representative describes relationship to Klamath TMDL

By David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News 9/25/09

Siskiyou County, Calif. - A concern cited in both the oral comments and written comments submitted by the public with regards to the Klamath Draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) has been the participation of the state of Oregon and how the loading crossing the state line will affect California’s stretch of the river.

The “loading” of a river occurs when various sources of known contaminants enter the river, through both human and natural contributors. The TMDLs are an attempt to quantify the amount coming from human sources in an effort to create a regulatory structure that acts as a limiting agent to prevent negative effects on beneficial uses of the river.

In an interview Thursday, Gail Louis, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9, answered questions about the interaction between California and Oregon. The EPA, through regions 9 and 10, has worked with both states on the TMDLs, according to Louis.

“It requires close coordination between both agencies,” Louis said.

Louis stated that a consent decree submitted in 1997 set a timeline for the EPA to establish and implement TMDLs in California, with the Klamath and Lost rivers being the last rivers for which TMDLs are to be completed.

According to the Environmental Protection Information Center Web site, the consent decree was entered at the conclusion of a lawsuit filed against the EPA titled “Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, et al. v. Marcus.”

The site states that the suit was aimed at compelling the EPA to create the TMDLs for 17 north coast rivers and streams, which was mandated by the Clean Water Act of 1972.

Louis said that the EPA recognized that the schedule for completing the TMDL for the Klamath was approaching its deadline, but also recognized the need to have the Oregon TMDL match the goals of this state’s.

Louis also referred to the two memorandums of understanding (MOAs) entered into by both states. The first MOA, entered into in 2003 between the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB), the EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), sets forth various points of agreement regarding the establishment of TMDLs for the Klamath and Lost rivers.

The MOA states that the two agencies are committed to “coordinating on data collection activities, including data collection protocols, quality assurance and quality control, and timing and locations of monitoring activities; sharing data; developing analytical tools that provide seamless and coordinated coverage across state lines; sharing draft work products; coordinating stakeholder involvement efforts to the extent feasible; meeting downstream water quality standards or water quality objectives, as appropriate; sharing drafts of communications affecting the states’ abilities and effectiveness in carrying out the states’ responsibilities and fulfilling their commitments; and coordinating on implementation activities and revision provisions, including jointly considering new and emerging science, and accounting for significant physical changes in River conditions.”

Louis stressed the importance of the states agreeing to meet downstream standards, as both the Lost and Klamath rivers cross the state line, meaning that the two TMDLs should be in agreement.

The second MOA entered into by the parties, submitted in June, contains points of agreement with regard to the implementation of the two states’ TMDLs.

Asked what obstacles the DEQ faces in implementing its TMDL, Louis said that while the DEQ has “direct implementation authority” in some stretches of river, others are under the authority of different bodies, including some stakeholder groups, which has the potential to affect the process.

Louis was also asked what differences she has observed between the stakeholders in Oregon and the stakeholders in California. She said that in California, there are environmental interests, fishing, agriculture and timber, among others.
In Oregon, according to Louis, point sources in Klamath Falls create different challenges, as well as some of the challenges faced in California, to varying degrees.

In order to better understand its direct challenges, as well as how the DEQ plans to implement its TMDL before the water enters California, look for an interview with a DEQ representative in a future edition of the Siskiyou Daily News.
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