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Klamath TMDL in a nutshell 

(Sorry to timber folks. I was limited in space.)

by Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong  7/3/09

The proposed Klamath TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) water quality implementation plan imposes yet another wave of regulations on the ability of locals to make a living in Siskiyou County. It further burdens all ranchers, timber managers, irrigated agriculturalists, suction dredge miners and anyone with a road in the Klamath River basin in Siskiyou County. (This includes the Scott and the Shasta Valleys.)
Miners will see substantial new restrictions. No dredge “instream buffer areas” of from 300-1500 feet will be established at the confluence of creeks and streams tributary to  the Klamath. (These buffers will be upstream and downstream on the Klamath River and up into the tributary.) This is to protect cold water “thermal refugia” for salmon.
There is also a full slate of regulations on timber management.
The current waiver for Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) for the Shasta TMDL is conditional upon increasing dedicated instream cold water flows by 45 cubic feet per second (cfs.) The WDR waiver for the Scott recommended a cooperative groundwater/surface water study plan. The Klamath TMDL enlarges that to include the completion of the actual study and the implementation “appropriate management practices…in order to ensure adequate flow in the river.”
A section of the Klamath TMDL imposes a new set of  “watershed-wide” requirements to prohibit streamside tree removal and prohibit sediment discharge. (Residential landowners will be largely covered under existing restrictions.)
Land owners will need to establish  “riparian management zones,” “streamside buffer areas,” or “watershed and lake protection zoneslarge enough to “include any trees that have the potential to provide shade to surface waters once they reach their site potential height.” These trees should not be removed, and where they have been removed, may need to be replanted.
Those with existing sediment sources, such as roads, will have to: (1) Identify and quantify  sediment sources; (2) Prioritize efforts to control the sources based on magnitude of threat, feasibility of control and accessibility; (3) Set a schedule for cleanup; (4) Take action; (5) Monitor effectiveness and adapt. Land managers on this path will be considered on the path to compliance.  Non-compliance would invite enforcement pursuant to the Statewide Enforcement Policy.
Under the watershed-wide prohibitions, grazers must protect riparian shade and control discharges of nutrients and organic matter.  NCRWQCB staff is recommending a WDR conditional waiver to cover grazing activities and limit livestock access to riparian areas.
The TMDL recommends that grazers have Ranch Water Quality Management Plans (RWQMP) to address problems. (These may be required under a WDR or waiver.) The RWQMP identifies the management practices selected by the landowner(s) to comply with the TMDL and also include elements such as: (1) a sediment source survey; (2) implementation measures and schedule; (3) an inventory of riparian conditions; (4) Nutrient and organic matter control measures; and (5) Effectiveness tracking 
According to the TMDL, irrigated agricultural users have the potential to contribute to water quality impairments through discharges of polluted irrigation tailwater and by degrading riparian conditions. Watershed-wide WDRs are proposed for individual or  group compliance. (These would succeed existing waivers in the Shasta and Scott.) The requirements would include compliance with best management practices (BMPs) that: (1) Control discharges resulting from irrigated agriculture activities; (2) Comply with the prohibition on the discharge of excess sediment;  and (3) meet the TMDL allocations and targets for shade, nutrients, and organic matter. Management measures should focus on maintaining and restoring riparian vegetation, road management to control sediment discharges, and controlling irrigation tailwater quality. It is envisioned that a WDR waiver could involve implementation through Water Quality Management Plans, similar to the RWQMPs.  
The implementation plan was just released as a new part of the TMDL. Unfortunately, the local Yreka workshop on July 7 will have passed at the time of publishing. Additional workshops will be held in Orleans (Karuk offices) on the 8th and in Klamath on the 9th (Yurok offices.) Comments must be submitted to the NCRWQCB by August 17. www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/water_issues/programs/tmdls/klamath_river/

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              Page Updated: Saturday July 04, 2009 04:36 AM  Pacific

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