Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
County officials want answers to proposed TMDL
by Sara Hottman, Herald and News 11/7/10
Klamath County’s Natural Resource Advisory Board will question Oregon and California officials about water pollution regulations during a meeting Monday, but the discussion will have no formal impact on the final state Department of Environmental Quality order.
Klamath County Commissioner Cheryl Hukill said the meeting will give stakeholders — city and county officials as well as ratepayers — a chance to ask state officials direct questions about the total maximum daily load, or TMDL, requirements for the Klamath and Lost rivers.
A TMDL is an Environmental Protection Agency-mandated limit on the amount of pollutants a water body can sustain. The DEQ will implement the TMDL standards for the Klamath River through discharge permits issued to municipal wastewater treatment plants.
Local officials say treating water to the deg ree DEQ has pro - posed will cost the city and county ratepayers millions to upgrade treatment facilities.
Upper Klamath Lake has had a TMDL in place since 2002.
Mark Willrett, city public works director, will be at the meeting, but said he doesn’t know what the discussion will touch on. Steve Kirk, Klamath Basin Coordinator with DEQ, said he was attending the meeting as a courtesy, since the public comment portion of the TMDL process is over.
Clayton Creager, with North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board in California, also will be there. Northern California TMDLs have already been established for the portion of the Klamath River in California.
The county National Resource Advisory Board is made up of locals representing agriculture and irrigators, mining and quarries, forests and timber, nurseries and land development.
Developing the TMDL
The DEQ has nearly completed a TMDL for the Klamath and Lost rivers.
The agency distributed a draft TMDL in February and took comments on it from March until May. Kirk said almost 200 pages of responses to comments will be released with the TMDL order in December.
“We intend to move forward with (the TMDL),” Kirk said.
Klamath Falls and Klamath County officials say the proposed limits for pollutants like phosphorous are unreasonably low, and some contend the TMDL is based on faulty science.
“The DEQ owes us an explanation,” Hukill said. “We’re dealing with natural phosphorous levels, but they want us to change.
“We had a work session with the DEQ a few months ago … and we feel their science is flawed.”
Local officials say the amount of naturally occurring phosphorous in the water is higher than the DEQ’s minimum load allotment, so wastewater facilities would have to make water cleaner than it is in nature, which would require costly treatment facility upgrades.
“We want an explanation as to why they want South Suburban (Sanitary District) or the city to pay $18 million to take care of TMDL,” Hukill said. “We feel that it’s time we confront them with what they’re trying to do. … We’re going to demand proper science.”
Kirk said the agency formed the TMDL based on mandates in the Clean Water Act. And, he added, stakeholders can file an appeal challenging the TMDL within 60 days of its issuance.
“We anticipate there’s a high likelihood some of the parties will be doing that,” Kirk said.
Page Updated: Monday November 08, 2010 02:18 AM Pacific
Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2010, All Rights Reserved