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 Scott-Shasta TMDL Meetings
by Marcia Armstrong, Pioneer Press

On Tuesday, June 28 at 6 p.m. at the Miner’s Inn Convention Center (in Yreka), the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB) will hold a public meeting on recommended Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for the Scott and Shasta Rivers and proposed “action plans” for attainment of water quality standards.

Under the California Porter- Cologne Water Quality Act ( http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_laws/docs/portercologne.pdf) and Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, the NCRWQCB has established a list of “beneficial uses” of water in both rivers. One of these uses is cold water fisheries (salmon and steelhead.) It has also set water quality standards to support beneficial uses (salmon) and has found that the Scott and Shasta do not currently meet those standards. The Scott is listed as “impaired” or polluted for excessive sediment and high water temperatures. The Shasta is listed for low dissolved oxygen and high water temperatures. http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a TMDL “is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards, and an allocation of that amount to the pollutant's sources.” It has also been described as a budget for pollutants - one that requires a reduction or elimination of pollutants to budgeted levels within a set number of years. The calculation takes into account both “point sources” and “non-point sources” of pollutants. (Point sources are “discrete,” like from a pipe emptying into the river. Non-point sources are those that cannot be pinpointed, like storm run-off from open fields.)

During the past year, I have participated in two technical review teams for the Scott. The NCWQCB has presented its findings concerning temperature studies conducted last summer by helicopter along the mainstem Scott. Considerable debate has occurred about the computer models selected to use as predicting tools, including the potential temperature effects of shading through vegetation. There has also been dialogue concerning road inventories and appropriate computer modeling tools to predict sediment production.
At the meeting on June 28, the NCRWQCB staff will present an overview of their findings about the “impairments” on the two rivers. Identified sources of pollution will include natural and historic, as well as those attributed to current human management-related activity. Staff will indicate what they feel are likely sources of man-made pollution, (such as road construction, riparian grazing and water diversion,) and discuss an action plan to address those sources.
Action plans typically require landowners to identify human-caused sources of pollution and to develop a plan to reduce or eliminate them. The NCWQCB has the power to take regulatory and enforcement actions against polluters. In the case of the Garcia River, the action plan relied upon “voluntary compliance” with best management practices. In the Mattole, a landowner inventory of sources and actions to address them was required. In both cases, there were some programs to assist landowners financially and technically in fixing identified sources of pollution.
The TMDLs and plans are anticipated to go to the NCRWQCB for adoption in the fall. It is anticipated that they will be approved by the EPA and implementation begun in late 2006 or early 2007.
In a previous column, I mentioned the requirement for 1602 streambed alteration agreements. It should be noted that the Department of Fish and Game is currently proposing to increase fees for this permit. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov) There is a public comment period that closes on July 11 for anyone wishing to voice their opinion on this proposal.





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