Scott River TMDL action plan in
YREKA - A grim-faced board
of county supervisors received its “assignment”
from the North Coast Regional Water Quality
Control Board (Regional Water Board) on Nov. 18,
an action plan requiring Siskiyou County to
develop a MOU to address county roads, develop a
comprehensive grading ordinance, and study the
connection between ground and surface water in the
Three staff members with
the Regional Water Board addressed the
supervisors, providing the county with its list of
expectations in the process of developing a Total
Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for sediment and
temperature action plan for the Scott River. The
plan, in its final stages of development, is
scheduled for adoption Dec. 7 in Yreka.
Regional Water Board Executive Officer Catherine
Kuhlman said the group is in the process of
developing TMDLs and associated action plans for
all the watersheds in the Klamath Basin.
“The work is being conducted under the terms of a
consent decree entered into by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency in 1997,” she
A TMDL and action plan for the Salmon River was
adopted by the Regional Water Board in May 2005.
The public draft of the Scott River watershed
sediment and temperature TMDLs is now available
for review with comments due on or before Nov. 3.
The adoption hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7.
Kuhlman said TMDLs for the Shasta, Lost, and
Klamath rivers are under development.
“I have been involved with the Klamath Basin for
several years,” Kuhlman said. “The fishery is in
trouble but people are undecided as to why.”
She said the TMDL program started with Clean Water
Act in 1972. However, the work was not done and
the state was sued, forcing it to do the TMDLs
with a court enforced schedule.
The TMDL requires technical analysis and an
implementation plan. “You don't put in place rules
without having public dialogue,” she said.
The Regional Water Board is an “enforcement”
agency, one that many feel has been “pushing its
weight around” in the county. Others see the
“public input” requirement of the rule setting as
a formality, imposing rules that are inappropriate
for the county.
The grim faces of the supervisors reflect these
frustrations with the three county expectations,
“pushing” at some sensitive spots.
The expectation to develop a Memorandum of
Understanding between the county and the Regional
Water Board to address county roads is a sore spot
because Siskiyou County has been doing so on its
own, setting a regional standard for its
environmentally friendly road work.
The expectation for the county to develop a
comprehensive grading ordinance forces the
supervisors to impose regulation in the area of
private property rights, a sacred taboo in
“A comprehensive grading ordinance scares the heck
out of me,” Supervisor Bill Overman said. “Our
RCDs have put in millions improving habitat and
The request to study the connection between ground
and surface water is also a fearful one for the
supervisors as they seek to protect local water
rights from a perceived attempt of outside
interests seeking control of the county's water
“We are in agreement that there is too much
sediment and temperatures are too hot to support
salmon in the Scott River,” Kuhlman said. “We know
a lot about this watershed but still have a heck
of a lot more to learn.”
She said the Regional Water Board hopes to refine
the analysis and implementation as information is
“We need to reduce sediment from the roads, timber
harvesting and grazing and improve shade areas
through tree planting,” Kuhlman said. “I know that
‘grading ordinance' is a four letter word up here.
We also need a ground water study.”
Kuhlman said as a regulatory agency, the Regional
Water Board has enforced sediment violations in
waterways on private land but has yet to enforce
temperature violations. She said with the Scott
River plan almost complete, the next plan is for
the Shasta River. The plans is presently being
peer reviewed with a Dec. 9 release and January
workshops on schedule for a summer deadline.