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Oregon DEQ accepts water petitions 
by SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 4/15/11
     The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has accepted petitions of reconsideration filed by the city, county, businesses and irrigators, agreeing to review and possibly amend its pollution reduction mandate.
   Total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs, are a mechanism in the federal Clean Water Act to mandate the amount of a pollutant that can be discharged into water bodies.
   On the Klamath River, the order affects point sources, such as wastewater treatment plants, and non-point sources, such as agriculture and storm runoff.  
   “We’re pleased the DEQ recognized the importance of this and wanted to work with residents of the Klamath Basin,” said Mark Willrett, Klamath Falls public works director. “We really appreciate their willingness to step forward and work with us.”  
   Meeting with petitioners
   Steve Kirk, Klamath coordinator for DEQ, said the agency would soon meet with petitioners to discuss and address their issues. Petitioners were city of Klamath Falls, Klamath County, Columbia Forest Products, PacifiCorp, South Suburban Sanitary District, and Klamath Water Users Association, which represents irrigators.
   Petitioners, who learned of the decision at the beginning of the week, filed the appeals in February, two months after the DEQ finished the TMDL order for Klamath and Lost rivers. Their petitions cite concerns about the expense of implementation and claim the methods and assumptions used to write the order were flawed.
   “This is an encouraging development, and we are pleased that the (DEQ) took our concerns to heart,” said Greg Addington, director of the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents irrigators on the Klamath Reclamation Project.
   “This is a challenging set of issues, legally and environmentally, and we hope to work with DEQ and others to address them constructively,” he said.
   The TMDL order still has not been approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Martha Turvey, head of the watershed unit at the regional EPA office in Seattle, said the group would delay review until after the petition process.
   Willrett said the petitioners likely will have to coordinate with the EPA and the California water board, which already has a TMDL in place for its portion of the Klamath River, in the review process.
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