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Complex interstate pollution limits move forward in Klamath Basin

Tam Moore Oregon Staff Writer 6/24/05

YREKA, Calif. – Landowners in the upper reaches of the Klamath Basin will see new water pollution rules in the next couple of years as Oregon, California and the federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency near the homestretch in a project launched in 2004.

Subbasin-by-subbasin, the agencies are turning out what’s known as total maximum daily loads – TMDL to most stakeholders – for pollutants the two states listed on key waterways. David Leland, a TMDL coordinator with California’s North Coast Water Pollution Control Board, gave an update to the Klamath Fisheries Task Force meeting here June 15.

This week, in a two-day session in Santa Rosa, the California board was to consider waiving water temperature standards on the upper Lost River which originates in California, then flows through Oregon on its way to Tule Lake.

Next week the board holds an information meeting, 6 p.m. at the Miner’s in Yreka, on proposed TMDLs for the Scott and Shasta rivers. Both are tributaries of the Klamath located in Siskiyou County. Among implications for Scott Valley ranchers is a finding that sediments thought to come from landslides in the uplands are 25 percent greater than background levels. On the Shasta, a three-year study aimed at understanding a combination of sometimes lethal temperatures for fish and unhealthy dissolved oxygen concentrations may not be easy to fix.

“We’re looking at more water releases” from upstream storage, Leland said. The reservoir water currently is held for use by irrigators.

Perhaps the most troubled waterway in the 10 million-acre basin is part of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project. It extends from Malone Dam in Oregon across the state line and finally reaches the Klamath River through what BuRec calls the Straits Drain.

Leland said technicians are having a hard time creating computer models of the complex pollutants in the drain. He said a long-standing Clean Water Act lawsuit over the drain is “a few weeks” from settlement. Predictions on ways to reduce pollutants include limiting loading which may affect agricultural runoff and tailwater from the Klamath Project.





Page Updated: Saturday February 25, 2012 05:16 AM  Pacific

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