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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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 Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Vol. 33, No. 12

Page A1, column 1


Water quality questioned on Klamath

 Can the expectations be attained?

By Liz Bowen

Pioneer Press Assistant Editor, Fort Jones, California


YREKA, California – The Klamath River is up next for the creation of a plan that will be expected to improve federally-decided “impairments” in the water quality. Controversy looms over the process being used to develop improvement plans.

A meeting to obtain information and comments from the public will be held at the Miner’s Inn Convention Center in downtown Yreka on Thursday, Feb. 16. Time is 6 p.m. The public, landowners and the county are encouraged to attend and address the topics involved. Tribal and environmental groups will be stating their comments at the meeting.

The State Water Quality Control Board is in charge of the action plan, which directs the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and staff to do the development of the plan.

Utilizing the federal Clean Water Act, the federal Environmental Protection Agency directed the State of California to address the “impairments” of the Klamath River.

Back in the 1990s, the Klamath River was identified for problems regarding water temperature, nutrients and dissolved oxygen concentrations.

The Regional Water Quality Board’s employees (staff) will hold public meetings. These meetings are expected to identify and discuss the scope of potential environmental impacts that will be proposed through the Total Maximum Daily Load, called TMDL, plan of action.

The Scott River TMDL plan was recently deemed completed and accepted by the Regional Board, although timber, agriculture and landowners claimed that incorrect and flawed data had been used to establish potential regulations.

The Regional Board’s staff estimated that 50 percent of the Scott River should be covered by shade to help lower the temperatures in the summer. But landowners told the Board during its December 2005 meeting that in many areas additional trees would not survive due to high winter flows and floods.

Consistently since the 1940s, landowners and the Resource Conservation District have worked to establish trees and solidify banks. But during a wet winter such as the one Siskiyou County is receiving this year, the high water flows attack fast and furious taking banks and old growth trees out.

Too warm of temperatures and sediment were the “impairments” listed for the Scott River.

Shasta River is also in the process of a TMDL action plan that will address impairments of warm temperature and oxygen concentrations.

Each action plan will then be used by the Regional Board to amend the Basin Plan, which governs water quality in the Klamath Basin.

The Basin Plan amendment will describe the approach that will be expected to achieve a reduction in nutrient discharges, improve water temperatures and increase oxygen concentrations. State regulations will be established to reach the plan’s goals.

It is claimed by the governments that the “impairments” in the Klamath and other rivers are impacting several beneficial uses, including cold water salmon and steelhead fishery. The TMDL plan will establish the “load” capacity that the river can handle and still meet water quality standards.

Another public scoping meeting for the Klamath River TMDL plan will be held at the coast in Eureka on March 1 at the Red Lion Inn. Time is 6 p.m.

Questions regarding the scoping meeting should be directed to David Leland at (707) 576-2069 or Matt St. John at (707) 576-3762.





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