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Pollution limits under review by DEQ
by SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 10/19/11
Point sources in the total maximum daily load order are at a standstill until the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality decides how to resolve appeals to the order it issued last year.
Total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs, help the state regulate water pollution.
For the city of Klamath Falls and South Suburban Sanitary District, called point sources because they discharge treated wastewater into water bodies, the Klamath and Lost rivers’ TMDL tells them the amount of pollutants allowed in effluent.
Point sources must get state permits to discharge treated wastewater into water bodies, but they can’t get new permits until they meet TMDL requirements.
Gene Foster, manager of DEQ’s watershed management section, said the agency has met with all the petitioners once, but wants to meet a second time before they decide which parts of the order they’re willing to revise.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which gives final approval to the order, will delay its review until the petition process is finished, officials said.
The TMDL order would require point sources reduce phosphorous content by 91 percent, which would cost city ratepayers at least $6 million in treatment machinery and South Suburban ratepayers between $60 and $90 million, officials said.
Petitioners say Upper Klamath Lake is surrounded by volcanic soil that is naturally high in phosphorous. Water from the lake is released into Klamath River, thereby increasing the phosphorous load there.
Non-point sources — Klamath County, Columbia Forest Products, Klamath Water Users Association, PacifiCorp — also filed petitions asking the state to revise its TMDL order.
According to the TMDL, non-point sources indirectly contribute to water pollution through water runoff from commercial operations or irrigation.
Despite their petitions for reconsideration, they still have a June 2012 deadline to write up a water quality improvement plan to curb their contributions to water pollution.
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