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Senator (Whitsett) questions science behind rules
Herald and News March 18, 2010
Oregon state Sen. Doug Whitsett asked Oregon Department of Environmental Quality officials Tuesday about the science behind new pollution regulations for the Klamath River.
DEQ officials explained how they modeled what the “natural condition” of the Klamath River would be without pollutants from other sources. But because of the eutrophic nature of Upper Klamath Lake, the river would never meet water quality standards under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act, said Dan Turner, DEQ water quality analyst.
Eutrophic refers to nutrient -rich water which promotes algae growth, reduces oxygen content and harms other organisms.
A TMDL was finalized for Upper Klamath Lake and the watershed above it in 2002. No measurable improvement has been seen since that TMDL was implemented, said Eric Nigg, DEQ water quality manager. Phosphorus, which has been identified as the driving factor for algae growth in the lake, is naturally occurring in high levels, Nigg said.
“Most of it was still going to be there,” he said. “ We expected it would take many decades . We don’t expect it’s going to happen fast.”
The Klamath River TMDL was based on goals set for Upper Klamath Lake during its pollution regulation process, Nigg said. Whitsett questioned the information that was used to craft the Upper Klamath Lake TMDL.
“If this is the upper boundary and we can’t have confidence in the upper boundary, how can we have any confidence in the TMDL for the river?” he asked.
Page Updated: Friday March 19, 2010 01:15 AM Pacific
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