NEW AND STRONGER KLAMATH RIVER WATER QUALITY STANDARDS APPROVED BY CALIFORNIA
On 7 September, after much debate, the California Water Resources Board formally approved new water quality standards (called ³TMDLs,² or ³total maximum daily loads² in Clean Water Act parlance) for the mainstem of the Klamath River. This decision gives final California agency approval to the proposed new standards adopted by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on 24 March after nearly six years of work, including two sets of independent scientific peer reviews.
The newly adopted state water quality standards now go to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for final concurrence approval by a 31 December 2010, Court-ordered deadline. This set of TMDLs is the final set of many such TMDLs for northern California salmon-bearing rivers required as a result of litigation brought by PCFFA and others (PCFFA et al. vs. Marcus) in 1994 that later resulted in a Court-approved consent decree and strict time schedule for their completion.
These new pollution control standards will be implemented over the next several years to help clean up numerous water quality problems in the Klamath mainstem that have severely limited salmon production in what was once the third most productive salmon river system in the U.S. The new standards will also be the basis of any future water quality permits or requirements that PacifiCorp, which owns the J.C. Boyle, Copco 1 & 2 and Iron Gate hydropower dams in the Klamath River, might later seek if it changes its mind about dam removal and reverts back to seeking formal dam relicensing.
However, currently PacifiCorp is committed to the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement (KHSA), which provides for removing these four mainstem hydropower dams and transferring its fifth non-power flow regulatory dam (Keno Dam) to the federal government by end of 2020, if the Secretary of Interior decides that dam removal is in the public interest by 31 March 2012. The KHSA also requires PacifiCorp to fund various interim protection measures to improve water quality between now and dam removal as a way to partially meet PacifiCorp¹s new TMDL obligations.
For a copy of the KHSA and the most current information on the federal government¹s dam removal NEPA environmental impacts assessment, now being conducted as part of the process to prepare for the March 31, 2012, dam removal Secretarial Determination, see: www.klamathrestoration.gov <http://www.klamathrestoration.gov/> .
For more information on the Regional Water Board¹s proposed standards, adopted by the State Board on 7 September with only very minor changes, you should refer to: www.waterboards.ca.gov/northcoast/water_issues/programs/tmdls/klamath_river .
For an article on this issue from the 8 September Eureka Times-Standard, see: www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_16019384