[env-trinity] Klamath water quality focus getting sharper

Josh Allen jallen at trinitycounty.org
Thu Mar 2 13:52:52 PST 2006

Klamath water quality focus getting sharper
Article Launched: 03/02/2006 4:27 AM PST 


John Driscoll The Times-Standard 

Water quality agencies are mid-stream in developing plans to help clean
up the Klamath River's water, considered imperative to boosting salmon
and other fish populations. 

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Oregon
Department of Water Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
are analyzing information about the river, beginning at Link River at
the outlet of Upper Klamath Lake to the ocean. Currently, they are
looking at nutrients, dissolved oxygen and temperature -- listed as out
of whack by the agencies. 

By October, the North Coast water board hopes to have a draft document
that identifies limits on these three factors -- called a TMDL, or total
maximum daily load. The TMDL development team leader, David Leland, said
that the plan could go to the board for approval by January. 

After that, farmers, timber operators, gravel extractors or any
operation that may add nutrients, raise temperatures or deplete oxygen
in the river would either need a special permit, or a waiver from the

But Leland said it's too early to say what the limits might look like. 

"I'm reluctant to prejudge what the action plan would be before we do
the analysis," Leland said. 

The water board's role is to set goals for improving water quality, he
said, and can lend support to projects that aim to achieve those goals. 

A similar plan developed for the Shasta River -- a Klamath River
tributary -- directs irrigators to improve the quality of water that is
returned to the watershed, encourages ranchers to control erosion and
polluted runoff, and directs cities to change wastewater operations to
improve water quality. 

State Water Resources Control Board experts are also working to put the
Klamath River below the confluence of the Trinity River on a list of
rivers affected by sediment runoff. Water quality assessment unit chief
Craig Wilson said he hopes the recommendation, which will come with many
others of its kind, will be considered by the board this summer. That
will then go to the EPA for its approval. 

A TMDL plan will eventually be drafted to deal with the sediment issue.
How soon is a matter of where on the priority list the Klamath lands,
Wilson said

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