The TMDLs on the original north coast rivers listed as impaired have finally been completed

In addition to what is said in the main story, I have some additional thoughts and history I would like to present for Coast Action Group.

It feels good that 14 years after the consent degree – finally with the adoption of the Klamath TMDL – the Consent Degree schedule has been completed.

However, the completion of TMDLs does not solve the problem of impaired waterbodies suffering from pollutant inputs from in appropriate land use, mostly forest practices and Ag.

Without implementing programs (e.g. WDRs or Conditional Waivers for Timber operations, grazing, dairy and feedlots, or Basin Plan Amendments (for sediment, nutrient, and temperature control) for controlling pollutant inputs from land use the pollution control targets set by the TMDL language – progress towards attaining Water Quality Standards will never be met. Statewide WDRs and Conditional will necessarily fall short of the mark of addressing regional issues.

Most of the control language, as Implementing Programs (WDRs, Waivers, etc) in the currently approved State promulgated TMDLs is actually based on words that have yet to be written. Thus, we are not assured of the efficacy of such programs that have yet to be developed. This is a problem – that we must face and work on – continuously.

The Garcia River TMDL for Sediment and Implementation plan is still the only TMDL standing with an Implementation Plan amended into the Basin Plan. This process was lengthy and costly. But, it is working for the Garcia.

PCFFA, Cal Trout, and Sierra Club were initial supporters of the litigation that was filed by our attorney Joe Brecher for Sierra Club Legal Defense (now Earthjustice). Coast Action Group initially discovered the possibility of using this section of the federal Clean Water Act and brought it to Joe’s attention. Since the filing of the litigation and settlement with the EPA and Judge Patel’s Consent Decree schedule, CAG has been active in the promulgation of most of the TMDLs listed in the news story below (except for the Klamath River TMDL -which was way beyond CAG’s level of expertise – also absent on the Salmon and Van Duzen). CAG also helped with the framework and details for comments made by larger organizations and some tribes. CAG (alone – overcoming the State Board recommendation not to list) also secured Temperature Impaired Listings for the Russian River, Gualala River, Russian River, Mad River, and Big River.

There still are more outstanding TMDLs to do. These TMDLs will only help attain Water Quality Standards and help to bring fish and other aquatic resources back if there are matched with appropriate (prescriptive and enforceable) Implementing Programs – based on regional criteria and managed on a regional basis.

We have successfully made over one hurdle and we are running up on the next one. The job is not completed.

Alan Levine, Coast Action Group