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Cleanup plan for Klamath River approved

Deadsalmon Taking a major step in a long campaign to force the cleanup of one of California’s major salmon rivers, the federal government has approved a state plan that calls for significant reductions in pollution from agricultural runoff and dam operations on the Klamath River.

The new pollution limits are intended to start recovery of a river once home to bountiful salmon runs but more recently known as a polluted, water-starved battleground for farmers, tribes and salmon fishermen.

‘It’s nice to have a victory like this after so many years of litigation,” said Glen Spain, Northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Assns., one of several groups that sued in the 1990s to get the state to take action.

It will take years, if not decades, to meet the standards. The pollution problems are spread across southern Oregon and Northern California and for the most part arise from hydropower dams and runoff from farms, ranches and logging operations.

“You can’t really flip the switch,” said Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which put the standards into play with its approval.

The dams are slated for eventual removal under a separate agreement. But farmers, ranchers and the U.S. Forest Service are going to have to change some of their practices to reduce erosion and runoff that has loaded the river with sediment and nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

The Klamath National Forest is working on decommissioning old logging roads, and ranchers are beginning to erect fences to keep cattle off the river banks, officials said. Keeping contaminated irrigation runoff out of the river will take more effort.

“They can fight it but it’s going to happen. We’re willing to work with people in getting it accomplished,” said Dave Clegern, press officer for the State Water Resources Control Board.

Related:

Court upholds protections for Pacific Steelhead

U.S. Acts to Help Wild Salmon in Klamath River

Salmon Die-Off Reignites Feud Over Klamath River Water

-- Bettina Boxall

Photo: Dead salmon line the Klamath River bank after a 2002 die-off. Credit: Ron Winn/Associated Press

 
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One of the things addressed is high levels of phosphorous in the water in the Klamath watershed. Which is infuriating in the end, because the soil around Upper Klamath Lake is high in phosphorous to begin with. There is no way to reduce phosphorous content in the water to the level that the EPA wants to see in the daily TMDLs of Klamath Falls. The lake is maybe 30 feet at its deepest, always on the warm side, has algae issues, is no fun to swim in, and stinks in the summer. Nobody fishes in it because the fish taste like mud. It's a eutrophic, dying lake with a high nutrient/low oxygen content and there's no fixing that. Even the settlers in the area could see it was of not much use to anyone except the animals and plants that live in and around it. No mention here, as well, of the continued slow explosion of juniperus occidentalis that Klamath County has seen since the late 1800s.

"Send in the National Guard to clean up the marijuana gardens and meth labs. The dead fish that you see may have been caused by meth lab sludge."

Or the fact that salmon (and other anadromous fish) die naturally after they swim up freshwater rivers from the ocean and spawn.

But I agree with you that if we legalized marijuana we wouldn't have the contributions of more pesticides from illegal grows adding to water pollution in the Klamath.

But that isn't the issue here, dude.

Please add to the cleanup of the Klamath River:
1. Send in the National Guard to clean up the marijuana gardens and meth labs. The dead fish that you see may have been caused by meth lab sludge.
2. Outlaw and enforce gill netting on the North American Continent. The very fish going upstream to spawn are being taken and sold in violation of existing treaties.


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