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6/29/06, Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 5, column on Scott River TMDL Action Plan 

After hearing many speakers, the State Water Resources Control Board gave final approval to the Scott River TMDL Action Plan (Total Maximum Daily Loads for temperature and sediment pollution.) http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb1/programs/tmdl/Status.html
At the beginning of the hearing, Board Chair Tam Doduc announced that the Board would only be considering whether to adopt the Action Plan or remand it back to the North Coast Board. The possible alteration to water use rights to maintain minimum flows could not be considered at this time. A speaker for the federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) also stated that if the Board decided to remand the plan back to the Regional Board for changes, that the EPA would have to step in and take over. This was because the deadlines for completed TMDLs set by the original court case (PCFFA v. EPA) would not, otherwise, be met.
Here are some of the public comments made:
Speakers on behalf of the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation (QVIR) expressed concern over the unregulated use of groundwater, the County’s lack of qualifications to conduct a groundwater study as specified in the Action Plan, the lack of water rights enforcement on the tributaries, low summer flows and the disconnect between the tributaries and the mainstem creating conditions where tribal trust species could not return to their reservation. QVIR wanted multiple stakeholders to monitor adjudicated water use and to include the QVIR in the Native American beneficial uses of water recognized in the Basin Plan. (Staff stated that as that use was already in the Klamath, it would also include the tributaries.)
The Karuk Tribe requested that the State Board reopen the water adjudication, take charge of the groundwater study and ensure that tribal and other stakeholders are included on the technical team. The tribe is particularly interested in spring Chinook runs and stated that habitat had to be increased in areas like the Scott River to avoid listing.  
Speakers on behalf of the Yurok Tribe stated that the Scott empties into the Klamath River, which does not meet their needs for water quality when it flows through their reservation. They felt that the TMDL process had been rushed and was “vulnerable to suit.” The Yurok tribe has a recognized beneficial use of water for cultural and subsistence fisheries.
Speakers for the City of Morro Bay and local fishermen wanted a shorter implementation period. The speakers blamed the Scott and the Shasta River water quality for the loss of their commercial fishery.
A speaker named Myers from the Sierra Club said that statistics indicated that that the decline in summer flows was likely due to unpermitted diversions. Board member Charles Hoppin requested that he supply proof of his allegations. Myers questioned whether the action plan to increase shade would achieve the water quality objectives for temperature. Staff clarified that increased shade and other actions were in the plan. At this time, there is not enough data to show that increasing ground water accretions (seeping) into the river could lower temperature, but this may be a future action.  
Alan Levine of the Coast Action Group stated that the plan relied too much on voluntary efforts. He wanted defined and enforceable actions, the SWRQCB to take charge of the groundwater study, and enforcement of water rights.
Zeke Grader from the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) said that 90% of their fishing time had been lost this year due to weak Klamath Chinook stocks. He asked for established requirements for river flows to meet hard targets for fish production.
A series of angry fishermen and women talked about the severe economic impact of the near closure of the fishing season north of Pigeon Point due to the Klamath weak Chinook stocks. Many recounted personal stories of hardship and family separation. They demanded that the Board “grow a spine” and take charge of the Klamath matter that is affecting the entire state. They wanted enforceable minimum flows and timing, a groundwater moratorium, an “equitable sharing” of the water resource, and elimination of pollution. A fisherwoman stated that it was a crime how the public resource was being mismanaged – that it was an environmental disaster with fish dying in the river. One stated that alfalfa can be grown anywhere, but not salmon – that when fish stocks are low the fishermen are told to cut the fleet, but no one tells the farmer he can’t have more water. Another said that the fishermen are giving all and the farmer nothing and that this is not fair.  
Felice Pace was there representing the Klamath Riverkeepers (Klamath Forest Alliance http://klamathforestalliance.org/index.php .) He stated that the adjudication was never enforced, that there was out of season irrigation, stockwater rights were abused and according to San Francisco columnist Tom Steinstra, Fish and Game codes were not enforced. Pace stated that the Scott River was a navigable stream and that the Fish and Game should have free access to the rivers. He said that Siskiyou County had excluded the tribes and environmentalists from review of the groundwater study in violation of the State Board’s social justice policy. He pointed out that Siskiyou County had previously rejected a grading ordinance, currently requested in the Action Plan. Pace stated that the decline in Klamath stocks was due to water quality degraded by dams in the mainstem Klamath and increased pumping in the tributaries like the Scott.  
Maria Rey from the EPA supported adoption of the Action Plan. She stated that critical flow conditions must be considered, but that there was not enough data to show that increased flows were necessary to meet temperature requirements.
John McCamman, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fish and Game supported adoption. He talked about the cooperative relationships that had been developed over many years with landowners in Scott Valley and pointed to the money that had been spent on collaborative projects that were of “significant benefit” to the fish. 
Nadine Bailey from Senator Aanestad’s office supported adoption of the plan as presented and Willie Preston from Assemblyman LaMalfa’s office supported Siskiyou County’s position on adoption.
The SWRCB passed the resolution approving the TMDL Action Plan and implementation schedule as submitted. They did add a conditional waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) for dischargers in the Scott River who are not otherwise regulated. The Board encouraged the regional board to complete their region-wide Basin Plan Amendments on riparian areas and wetlands, sediment, and riparian areas and dissolved oxygen. In addition, the State Board included the Klamath River and its tributaries (Scott and Shasta) under provisions of the AB 2121 water quality control policy in progress, which contains principles and guidelines for maintaining in-stream flows for the purposes of water right administration and when considering requests for new appropriations.




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