Scott River Pollution Clean-up Plan
Petey Brucker, KFA Press Release
Klamath Riverkeeper Program
December 11, 2005
ORLEANS - Coastal Salmon Fishermen, Native American Tribes and River Conservationists were among those who
traveled to Yreka, California, near the Oregon border, on Wednesday December 7th for a meeting of the
North Coast Water Quality Control Board. These and other concerned citizens testified in opposition to the plan prepared by state employees to clean up sediment
and temperature pollution in a major tributary of the Klamath River. This year record low numbers of
salmon returned to the Scott River which once teemed with salmon. Fishermen, tribes and river
conservationists believe that poorly regulated agricultural and timber industry pollution is responsible
for the poor state of Scott River water quality and fisheries.
The clean up plan for the Scott
consists of a document called a TMDL as well as an Action Plan. A TMDL is required whenever a river or
stream is found to be polluted in violation of water quality standards designed to protect beneficial
uses of water, including drinking water, fisheries and recreation. In spite of the opposition, North
Coast Water Board members appointed by the governor approved the Clean-Up Plan. Petey Brucker,
representing the Klamath Riverkeeper program, summed up reaction to the decision: The North Coast Board
approved a Plan which will not clean up Scott River pollution. If it stands, the Scott River TMDL and
Action Plan will result in continued fish kills in the Scott and Klamath Rivers.
The Plan approved
by the Northcoast Water Board relies on voluntary actions by timber, agriculture and Siskiyou County.
Those opposed to the Plan say the voluntary approach has been tried for 30 years while water quality and
fisheries have declined. They say it is time for real regulation. Those opposed to the plan echoed Mr.
Brucker's statement that the time has come for real regulation of agricultural and timber pollution, not
continuation of failed policies which have allowed these industries to use the Scott River as a sacrifice
Klamath Riverkeeper's Brucker also noted that the Scott TMDL sets a bad precedent for
Clean-Up Plans which will be developed during 2006 for the Mainstem Klamath and Shasta Rivers. We are
deeply disappointed that the Board chose to approve a flawed plan which will not result in cleaning up
temperature and sediment pollution,said Brucker, adding that If this TMDL stands it will lead to more
conflict and litigation and could result in extirpation of salmon from most of the Scott River Watershed.
Those opposing the TMDL and Clean-Up Plan will now take their message to the State Water Resources
Control Board which must approve the Plan before it goes to the US EPA for final consideration. The State
Board will take up the Scott River TMDL and Action Plan as early as January.
The Klamath River was
once the third largest salmon producing river basin on the West Coast. But now Klamath River salmon are
considered the weakest of West Coast salmon runs. This has resulted in massive reductions in commercial,
sport and tribal salmon fisheries between Cape Mendocino in California and Cape Blanco in Oregon. Salmon
landings and the economies of coastal communities in Northern California and Southern Oregon have suffered
as a result. Government economists estimate the value of restored Klamath River salmon fisheries at as
much as $8 billion annually.
Klamath Riverkeeper, a program of the Klamath Forest Alliance, is
affiliated with the California Coastkeeper Alliance and the National Riverkeeper Alliance headed by Robert
Kennedy Jr. The mission of Klamath Riverkeeper is to restore water quality and the beneficial uses of
water throughout the Klamath River Basin of Northern California and Southern Oregon.
accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and as defined under the provisions of "fair use", any
copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research and for
educational use by our membership.