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Review is good for potentially costly standards for Klamath River
Herald and News Editorial April 27, 2011
We'll take it as a good sign - maybe even better - that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has agreed to review the pollution standards it proposed for the Klamath River.

Petitions were filed by organizations representing those affected, which is just about everybody who lives in the upper Klamath River Basin.

The projected costs of meeting the standards, known officially as "total maximum daily loads" and which set the amount of pollutants that can be added to the Klamath River, run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Anyone who discharges effluent into the river is part of this.

Filing the petitions for review were the city of Klamath Falls, South Suburban Sanitary District, Klamath County, Columbia Forest Products, PacifiCorp and the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents project irrigators.

"We're pleased the DEQ recognizes the importance of this and water to work with the residents of the Klamath Basin," said Mark Willrett Klamath Falls public works director. "We really appreciate their willingness to step forward and work for us."

There's a lot riding on the outcome - many millions of dollars that could send local wastewater disposal rates skyrocketing and hurt hopes for local job growth by adding to the cost of doing business in Klamath County.

The proposal affects not just residential users who discharge treated wastewater into the river through the city of Klamath Falls or the South Suburban Sanitary District, but agriculture and industry.

The main problem is the high phosphorous content that's in the river naturally. It's so high that treated wastewater from the urban Klamath Falls area that is lower in phosphorous than the river's natural content, would need to be cleaner and the cost of treating it would do no good for the river while being a tremendous burden for local ratepayers.

The reconsideration process should recognize this. Spending so much money without improving the river hardly makes sense.

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              Page Updated: Thursday April 28, 2011 02:48 AM  Pacific

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