|6/29/06, Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 5,
column on Scott River TMDL Action Plan
After hearing many speakers, the State Water Resources Control Board
gave final approval to the Scott River TMDL Action Plan (Total Maximum
Daily Loads for temperature and sediment pollution.) http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb1/programs/tmdl/Status.html
At the beginning of the hearing, Board Chair Tam Doduc
announced that the Board would only be considering whether to adopt the
Action Plan or remand it back to the North Coast Board. The possible
alteration to water use rights to maintain minimum flows could not be
considered at this time. A speaker for the federal EPA (Environmental
Protection Agency) also stated that if the Board decided to remand the
plan back to the Regional Board for changes, that the EPA would have to
step in and take over. This was because the deadlines for completed TMDLs
set by the original court case (PCFFA v. EPA) would not, otherwise, be
Here are some of the public comments
Speakers on behalf of the Quartz Valley Indian
Reservation (QVIR) expressed concern over the unregulated use of
groundwater, the County’s lack of qualifications to conduct a groundwater
study as specified in the Action Plan, the lack of water rights
enforcement on the tributaries, low summer flows and the disconnect
between the tributaries and the mainstem creating conditions where tribal
trust species could not return to their reservation. QVIR wanted multiple
stakeholders to monitor adjudicated water use and to include the QVIR in
the Native American beneficial uses of water recognized in the Basin Plan.
(Staff stated that as that use was already in the Klamath, it would also
include the tributaries.)
The Karuk Tribe requested that the
State Board reopen the water adjudication, take charge of the groundwater
study and ensure that tribal and other stakeholders are included on the
technical team. The tribe is particularly interested in spring Chinook
runs and stated that habitat had to be increased in areas like the Scott
River to avoid listing.
Speakers on behalf of
the Yurok Tribe stated that the Scott empties into the Klamath River,
which does not meet their needs for water quality when it flows through
their reservation. They felt that the TMDL process had been rushed and was
“vulnerable to suit.” The Yurok tribe has a recognized beneficial use of
water for cultural and subsistence fisheries.
the City of Morro Bay and local fishermen wanted a shorter implementation
period. The speakers blamed the Scott and the Shasta River water quality
for the loss of their commercial fishery.
A speaker named
Myers from the Sierra Club said that statistics indicated that that the
decline in summer flows was likely due to unpermitted diversions. Board
member Charles Hoppin requested that he supply proof of his allegations.
Myers questioned whether the action plan to increase shade would achieve
the water quality objectives for temperature. Staff clarified that
increased shade and other actions were in the plan. At this time, there is
not enough data to show that increasing ground water accretions (seeping)
into the river could lower temperature, but this may be a future
Alan Levine of the Coast Action Group
stated that the plan relied too much on voluntary efforts. He wanted
defined and enforceable actions, the SWRQCB to take charge of the
groundwater study, and enforcement of water rights.
Grader from the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
(PCFFA) said that 90% of their fishing time had been lost this year due to
weak Klamath Chinook stocks. He asked for established requirements for
river flows to meet hard targets for fish production.
series of angry fishermen and women talked about the severe economic
impact of the near closure of the fishing season north of Pigeon Point due
to the Klamath weak Chinook stocks. Many recounted personal stories of
hardship and family separation. They demanded that the Board “grow a
spine” and take charge of the Klamath matter that is affecting the entire
state. They wanted enforceable minimum flows and timing, a groundwater
moratorium, an “equitable sharing” of the water resource, and elimination
of pollution. A fisherwoman stated that it was a crime how the public
resource was being mismanaged – that it was an environmental disaster with
fish dying in the river. One stated that alfalfa can be grown anywhere,
but not salmon – that when fish stocks are low the fishermen are told to
cut the fleet, but no one tells the farmer he can’t have more water.
Another said that the fishermen are giving all and the farmer nothing and
that this is not fair.
Felice Pace was there
representing the Klamath Riverkeepers (Klamath Forest Alliance http://klamathforestalliance.org/index.php
.) He stated that the adjudication was never enforced, that there was out
of season irrigation, stockwater rights were abused and according to San
Francisco columnist Tom Steinstra, Fish and Game codes were not enforced.
Pace stated that the Scott River was a navigable stream and that the Fish
and Game should have free access to the rivers. He said that Siskiyou
County had excluded the tribes and environmentalists from review of the
groundwater study in violation of the State Board’s social justice policy.
He pointed out that Siskiyou County had previously rejected a grading
ordinance, currently requested in the Action Plan. Pace stated that the
decline in Klamath stocks was due to water quality degraded by dams in the
mainstem Klamath and increased pumping in the tributaries like the
Maria Rey from the EPA supported adoption
of the Action Plan. She stated that critical flow conditions must be
considered, but that there was not enough data to show that increased
flows were necessary to meet temperature requirements.
McCamman, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fish and
Game supported adoption. He talked about the cooperative relationships
that had been developed over many years with landowners in Scott Valley
and pointed to the money that had been spent on collaborative projects
that were of “significant benefit” to the fish.
Bailey from Senator Aanestad’s office supported adoption of the plan as
presented and Willie Preston from Assemblyman LaMalfa’s office supported
Siskiyou County’s position on adoption.
The SWRCB passed the
resolution approving the TMDL Action Plan and implementation schedule as
submitted. They did add a conditional waiver of Waste Discharge
Requirements (WDRs) for dischargers in the Scott River who are not
otherwise regulated. The Board encouraged the regional board to complete
their region-wide Basin Plan Amendments on riparian areas and wetlands,
sediment, and riparian areas and dissolved oxygen. In addition, the State
Board included the Klamath River and its tributaries (Scott and Shasta)
under provisions of the AB 2121 water quality control policy in progress,
which contains principles and guidelines for maintaining in-stream flows
for the purposes of water right administration and when considering
requests for new appropriations.