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Siskiyou TMDL's

by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 5, 10/31/06

This week, I got to drive over the new bridge at Shackleford Creek. The bridge, spanning a prime coho stream, has been several years mired in environmental review and development. It is a relief to know that heavy fire equipment can now safely make the trip directly down Quartz Valley Road without having to go 'round the long way. The Cottonwood Creek bridge in Hornbrook has also been completed; a fish barrier removed at Kelly Gulch; and County crews have recently done flood repair work to Copco Road, Scott River Road and Bar Road .In my opinion, the County Road Department in my neck of the woods is doing a great job!

Recently, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB) staff met with the County to discuss implementation of the Scott River TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load limits for sediment and water temperature.)

The County is required to: 1) Complete an inventory of sources for river sediment from County Roads in Scott Valley, establish a schedule for correcting those sources, and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing to use established best management practices for road work. 2) Develop a groundwater study plan that considers all groundwater, evaluates transpiration by stream-side vegetation and identifies potential solutions to mitigate any adverse impacts to beneficial uses. 3) In addition, the County is requested to pass a grading ordinance or other "enforceable mechanism" to address land disturbing activities.

The 5 County Coho Planning group was able to help Siskiyou County acquire grant funding to start training personnel for the road inventory in June of 2006. By August 31, 20 miles of inventory had already been completed. It is anticipated that all the ground work will be completed sometime in 2008. Then a prioritized project list can be developed. With the failure by Congress to reauthorize the Secure Schools and Communities Act, (which gives county roads and schools federal payments in-lieu of a 25% share of National Forest timber,) the Road Department is operating on half of its former revenue. Actual project completion will depend upon some sort of grant or other funding to fix the problems. County Road personnel continue to be trained in best management practices and are operating accordingly.

Siskiyou County has retained jurisdiction over groundwater use. The TMDL implementation plan directs that, by September 8 of 2007, Siskiyou County as lead, with partners such as the Siskiyou RCD, Scott River Watershed Council (SRWC) will create a formal groundwater study plan that will: 1) Evaluate changes in river flows and the water table elevations from groundwater pumping; 2) Determine the magnitude of groundwater recharge from leaking ditches and percolation of irrigated water; 3) Determine the impacts of water table fluctuations on riparian vegetation; and 4) Identify opportunities, such as conjunctive use, to increase subsurface water storage. It is suggested that Siskiyou County hire a contractor to complete the study.

There will be much additional discussion among partners concerning the study currently in place, which measures static water levels and is modeled after Tehama County's plan. SRWC also has in place a "hypothesis testing" strategy developed with input from many agencies. Discussions will explore how these might satisfy expectations as envisioned by the NCRWQCB. Funding would also have to be acquired to complete any study plan.

The issue of a general grading ordinance has been raised previously and denied by the Board of Supervisors. However, at the Board's request, the Planning Department has completed a draft Land Development Manual for new construction which will be first reviewed at a workshop of the Siskiyou County Planning Commission on Wednesday November 1 at the Board of Supervisors' Chambers in the Courthouse. The regular meeting starts at 9 a.m.

The SRWC and RCD will continue its work with technical support and grant funding assistance to landowners, helping to develop grazing and other land use strategies to prevent, minimize and control sediment and temperature impacts to rivers and streams.

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