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Klamath Courier, Fort Jones, California September 21, 2005 Vol 3, No. 39 Page A1, column 1
Lost River TMDL meeting was canceled
-- Regional water board puts plans on hold until Scott River is final.
By Liz Bowen, Klamath Courier Reporter
TULELAKE, Calif. – A letter was sent out last week from the employees at the California Regional Water Quality Control Board – North Coast Region.
With less than a week’s notice, the public scoping meeting for the TMDL Action Plan on the Lower Lost River was cancelled. The meeting had been set for Sept. 20 at the Tulelake Community Center.
TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Loads of “impairments” that will be allowed in the water quality for Lower Lost River.
Back in 1992, the Klamath River and its tributaries were designated “impaired” through the federal Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.
A Technical Action Plan along with an Implementation Plan is being developed by the state to “fix” the impairments; and landowners will be expected to do the projects. So far, there is no guarantee of funding for the projects and so landowners will be left holding the bag.
The Sept. 20 meeting was a public scoping meeting for the California Environmental Quality Act, which must be addressed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board in developing the TMDL Action Plan. The Lower Lost River “impairments” designated by the federal EPA Region 9 San Francisco office include “excess nutrients, high water temperatures and high pH,” according to the letter from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
But apparently the Lower Lost River and Shasta River TMDL Plans have been put on hold, while the Scott River TMDL Plan is finalized.
Scott Valley Rancher, John Menke, Ph. D., and other members of the Scott River Watershed Council are causing heartburn for the employees of the regional board. Menke is up in arms. He said the writers of the Scott River TMDL Action Plan are using incorrect data and creating “unreachable” goals.
Menke knows what he is talking about. He is a retired agricultural professor from the University of California Davis and Berkley, who began using models regarding grazing techniques and other agricultural practices over 30 years ago. The board’s staff writers work from their Santa Rosa office and utilize models in computer programs to make their decisions. Menke has told the staff that they used consultants without forestry expertise for the Siskiyou area, which has skewed their data.
During a meeting on the Scott River TMDL Plan in August, Menke again told the staff members of the water board where their data is incorrect. Menke was part of a two-year “TAG” committee that has held meetings with the water board staff in the development of the Action Plan of “fixes.” After explaining the problems with the draft plan, Menke was told that his comments would not be addressed in the draft plan before it went out for public comment. Menke, other TAG members and watershed council representatives were shocked that their comments had previously been solicited, but then would not be included in the thick document.
“It is unfair” not to include the committees comments, Menke said, “but I am not surprised.”
The Scott River was listed as “impaired” for too high of water temperatures and sediment. The goals set by the water board staff are considered “unreachable” by Scott Valley ranchers, because nature is not pristine and high rushing winter flows will continue to erode the banks of the river, whether there are old-growth trees there or not.
Understanding how the TMDL Action Plans began
The term “TMDL” is used to explain the development and actions of the plan. According to the State of California, only Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) will be allowed in a river’s Action Plan.
In order to accomplish the Action Plans, projects, programs and regulations will be implemented. Along with the regulations will be new permits for doing a variety of projects for normal activities along the river. Some will involve establishing shade by planting trees, while others are about runoff of water.
Permitting and enforcement of water quality has been established through the California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act.
This Porter-Cologne Act established the State Water Resources Control Board and each of the Regional Water Quality Control Boards as the principle state agencies for having primary responsibility in coordinating and controlling water quality in California.
Above the state in the federal Clean Water Act, which created the Environmental Protection Agency. It is that agency that ultimately listed the Klamath River and its tributaries, like the Salmon, Scott, Shasta and Lower Lost River, as “impaired” back in 1992.
It is also the EPA that is demanding the state complete TMDL Action Plans to fix the problems. And the timetable is tight, according to employees of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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