Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Notice of availability of draft document, public
 comment period, and public workshops
 concerning development of the water quality
 restoration plan for the Klamath River Basin
 in California: Draft Scoping for TMDL
implementation, posted to KBC 2/25/09
Public Workshops: Regional Water Board staff
will host five public workshops to present the
Water Quality Restoration Plan and to receive
oral and written comments from the public. The
workshops will be held as follows:
March 4, 2009, 6:00 p.m. Tulelake-Butte Valley
Fairgrounds Floriculture Room, Tulelake
March 5, 2009, 6:00 p.m.Willow Creek
School, 5321 York Rd, Montague
The public comment period will close at 5:00 p.m. on March 27, 2009.
Draft Klamath River TMDL's, Implimentation
Plan, Summary and Scoping, posted to KBC 2/25/09. "
North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board:
The Water Quality Restoration Plan will be available
for review on or before February 19, 2009 at:

COMMENTS by March 27, 2009

Matt St. John
707-570-3762 phone
707-523-0135 FAX

Regional Water Quality Control Board
5550 Skylane Blvd Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
June '09 - Public Review Draft TMKL - 60 day
June '09 - Public meetings / workshops
Oct '09 - RB Public Hearing - adoption
June '10 - SB Public Hearing - adoption
Sept '10 - US EPA approval

L-R,  David Leland, Supervising Engineer, Matt St John TMDL Lead, Samantha Olson, Staff Counsel, and Ben Zabinsky, Implementation Planning Lead. They are the CA Water Quality Control Board staff from Santa Rosa making a plan to purify Klamath Basin Water from Tulelake to the Oregon border.

Regional Water Quality Control Board wants Klamath Project's historically putrid water to become cold and clean.

February 2009 lawsuit by Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement parties causes Water Board to target Klamath Project water users.

by KBC News 3/16/09

(TMDL = Total Maximum Daily Load, the amount of nutrients the Water Quality cops will allow in your water)

TULELAKE - The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board from Santa Rosa came to Tulelake March 4th to discuss their Water Quality Restoration Plan for the Klamath Basin in California. The meeting was called "Draft Scoping for TMDL Implementation." The meeting was not advertised in local media, so only 20 people showed up. Their meetings were in Arcada, Klamath, Tulelake, Montague and Santa Rosa.

Matt St. John, TMDL Lead, said our water quality is not meeting standards, and our water quality impairments are temperature, low oxygen, nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus, algae, and sediment.

He said they are here to present to the public an implementation plan to "restore water quality to the Klamath Basin," and they are asking for input. "Tonight we are not presenting science, only policy."

St. John said the reason they are here is because of a February 2009 lawsuit by environmental groups, but they, including their legal council present, did not know who the litigants are.

We found those suing the water boards are: Sierra Club, PCFFA/Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association (stakeholder at the table in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement/KBRA closed-door meetings), Institute for Fisheries Resources, Friends of the Eel River, Friends of the Navarro watershed, Environmental Protection Information Center, Northcoast Environmental Center (at the KBRA table), and Klamath Riverkeeper (founded by Karuk Spokesman Craig Tucker who is at the KBRA table), non-profit organizations, Petitioners, vs. North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, and (Calif.) State Water Resources Control Board, state agencies, Respondents.

Proponents of the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement claimed stakeholders such as PCFFA and Klamath Riverkeeper, would refrain from suing farmers. However they are not directly suing Klamath farmers..they are suing the Water Boards to force the farmers to purify the naturally nutrient-laden water going into the Klamath River.

The Water board said they are required by law to quantify water conditions, including how much pollution is there and how can they change it.

Their goal is to make the water drinkable and swimable. They want possibly another wetland before Klamath Project water diverts into the Klamath River, and the council Samantha Olson said she particularly liked the idea of an enormous water purification plant, and making wetlands in Lower Klamath like they did off-Project.

That's when they board received input.

Jim Ottoman from Klamath Falls served on the Oregon DEQ/Dept. of Environmental Quality Water Policy Advisory Board and was a member of the Oregon State Water Board. He said, "decisions should be made by those who are affected and not by those in Sacramento or Salem. I believe better decisions are made locally. In this watershed you already have cities, counties, state agencies and federal agencies involved in water quality." He suggested it would be a more feasible and practical solution to use the Klamath Basin River Compact for setting Upper Klamath TMDL's. The board had no response. Ottoman said,  "You are not needed here."

Tom Mallams is President of Klamath Off Project Water Users, and chairman of the Headwaters Local Advisory Committee which deals specifically with forming the Klamath Headwaters Agricultural Water Quality Management Area Plan. He supported the Tulelake irrigators and explained how, before the Klamath Project was built, journals describe the "putrid" water in Klamath Lake. He said the water from our springs is naturally high phosphorus at it's source, far exceeding their "allowable limits" and it is unrealistic to expect farmers and ranchers to make the water pristine, a condition that did not exist historically. He said the natural phosphorus promotes algae growth in shallow warm Klamath Lake, and the algae then produces nitrogen levels and keeps the Klamath Lake and River water out of compliance with their rules.

"We cannot change Mother Nature," said Mallams.

According to Mallam's testimony, "Since the development of the Klamath Reclamation project, and irrigation development in the upper basin, there is a recorded increase of 30% in flows downstream (study done by Mark Van Camp, a hydrologist).  Without the project all the water from Lost River would never reach the Klamath River.  Before the project Lost River ended up in Tulelake and simply evaporated away there."

Addressing the board's suggestion of creating more wetlands to filter the water, Mallams said in the off-Project, "98,000 acres of irrigated land has been taken out of production.  Most has been put into wetlands and there has been no improvement in water quality in our basin."

This land was acquired by government agencies and The Nature Conservancy, promising more storage and better water quality. The wetlands proved to evaporate 2ce the water as irritated ag, and water quality diminished.

The KBRA demands 30,000 more acre feet of water to be taken from off-Project irrigators to be put into Klamath Lake.

Some farmers voiced concern that they were supposed to give input on how the water board would enforce their regulations, yet they did not tell the farmers what their science and regulations are. The board said the University of Calif. was using models and evaluating science to use in forming regulations. One Tulelake farmer said he thought the irrigators should be able to participate in the process and did not necessarily support the science and models and decisions coming from the University. He also expressed dismay that other stakeholders in the KBRA group downriver were blaming irrigators for poor water quality in the Klamath River since they are supposed to be friends now with the irrigators in supporting dam removal and agriculture.

Farmers disapproved of being allowed only 60 days public comment in the busiest part of farm season to evaluate the science, models and mandates.

The water board said they "may prescribe requirements, such as limitations on temperature, toxicity, or pollutant levels." They can use "prohibitions, cleanup and abatement order, cease and desist order, time schedule order, investigative orders, administrative civil liability, certification of another agency's program, and Clean Water Act section 401 and 313." to enforce their rules.

They could have the "polluters," timber harvesters, ranchers and farmers, fix the water to their standards.

TJ Woodley, Director of the Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District, said the Oregon Dept of Ag is working on local plan that works; in Oregon it's a locally led plan. He said more than $25 million dollars, with cost share with the irrigators, have been invested in local conservation projects in Tulelake area.

The State Board and FERC/Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are considering dam removal and project decommissioning. They said the Agreement in Principal, part of the KBRA/Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, could implement the TMDL's.

Some people are uncomfortable having the KBRA closed-door group of negotiators mandate TMDL's, especially when some of those in the group are presently suing the California Water Boards to mandate irrigators to clean the naturally nutrient-laden water.

We were thanked by the Water Board staff for our input, and told that they had never heard some of this information regarding the natural conditions, and they would not need to make mandates that don't work. Staff Counsel Samantha Olson said they were flexible, and if the landowner is doing things right, they don't have to meet TMDL's.

As a sidenote, on May 18, 2005, the California State Water Resources Control Board was the lead agency in the Strategy to form the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement: Cal/EPA Environmental Justice Action Plan This is an agenda detailing the strategies and timeline to be used to take out dams, increase flows, downsize agriculture, gain funding, and use the "TMDL's" and "target fish population or catch numbers, quantifiable habitat improvement" to achieve their goal, and get the farmers to agree.


KLAMATH TMDL, by Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong 3/6/09

President Klamath Off Project Water Users Tom Mallams, TMDL comments 3/6/09

James R. Ottoman comments 3/4/09

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