Russian River Interested Parties
Included (below) are some ideas and thoughts regarding the regulatory structure and review standards for this project.,
The Russian River TMDL and Implementation Plan is a CEQA based process. The Regional and State Board process is a Certified Regulatory Program (no full EIR is necessary – though compliance with CEQA standards are mandated by State Resources Code. Thus, there must be a full description of the project (environmental setting), potential impacts and outcomes, discussion of remedies to limit impacts provided – including the full range of feasible alternatives (the argument that some CEQA responsibilities can be ignored – as this project is improving environmental outcomes – does not stand) – and findings that logically support conclusions must be presented. Additionally, the agency must respond to all reasonable comments.
In my review of previous TMDLs and Implementation (Action) Plans – the RB does not always comply with the CEQA mandates – nor does the RB meet all requirement of Cal Water Code.
Not only is the TMDL and Implementation Plan a project under CEQA, it is a Water Quality Control Plan (and must meet the requirements of same under Cal Water Code 13242).
Cal Water Code (Section 13242) – Requirements of a Water Quality Control Plan (summarized):
Note: Impairment by listed pollutants – means – not meeting Water Quality Objectives (in the Basin Plan) + not meeting Beneficial Uses (= Water Quality Standards are not being met).
Thus – TMDL must identify sources of pollutants (and attach weighted responsibility to the sources), TMDL must establish acceptable levels of pollutants and the amount of specific pollutant reduction from the various sources need to attain Water Quality Standards (WQS).
A Water Quality Control Plan must:
1.) Describe all actions necessary to attain WQS
2). Have an Implementation Schedule for the employment of the noted actions (this schedule must be sufficient to attain WQS in a reasonable period of time)
3) There must be monitoring and adaptive feedback mechanism in place to assure effectiveness and compliance.
Thus all sources must be noted and controlled to the extent the reasonable progress of attainment of WQS will occur (and demonstrated by monitoring results – and – must be reasonably capable of attainment of acceptable results).
Review State Non-Point Source Policy for other requirements (that may apply) Note: NPS Policy is in the Basin Plan and, thus, enforceable.
If the above is not extant – and – the TMDL and Implementation Plan does not meet the above noted requirements – it must be noted in comments to the RB (to preserve legal standing).
Reliance on actions as yet to be defined or described (differred mitigations) are not acceptable under Cal Water Code and/or CEQA.
It is best to have some expert opinion in the file supporting your arguments on issues – and/or – peer review.
The EPA must approve the TMDL
The State Board must approve the TMDL and Implementation Plan (thus two shots at making your point – so – you may get a chance of going to Sacramento)
Finally – if there are issues – they must be submitted to the State Board – prior to any potential litigation (exhaust administrative remedies). If the State Board does not act in 180 days – then you have 30 days (I think) to file litigation.
Hopefully there will not be any problems (though I have seen that to occur).