The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved California’s water quality improvement plan for restoring salmon fisheries and water quality in the Klamath River. The plan calls for massive pollution reductions for the California portion of the river, including a 57 % reduction in phosphorus, 32% in nitrogen, and 16% in carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (CBOD). The plan also calls for annual reductions in the river's reservoirs of more than 120,000 pounds of nitrogen, and 22,000 pounds of phosphorus.
The Klamath River, a federally protected "Wild and Scenic River," flows 255 miles southwest from Oregon through northern California, and empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Klamath River drains an extensive watershed covering over 12,600 square miles, and has been called the "Everglades of the West.”
The Klamath River and its tributaries support the highest diversity of anadromous fishes of any river in California, including salmon, cutthroat trout, steelhead and sturgeon. Upstream in Oregon, the river hosts the state's most robust population of redband and bull trout. In 2002, a massive die-off of more than 33,000 salmon brought national attention to this area.
“This historic Klamath River plan charts the path to restoring one of our nation’s largest, most scenic and biologically important watersheds,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By establishing clear benchmarks and accountability this plan will ensure that Klamath River can thrive long into the future.”
"The Klamath particularly is a troubled river system, and once supported the third largest salmon runs in the nation. Implementation of these Klamath Mainstem TMDLs will go a long way toward helping restore those key salmon runs, and the jobs those salmon once supported," said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
The State’s plan identifies actions to improve water quality to restore salmon and other fisheries in the River, protect Native American cultural uses and enhance general recreational uses of the Klamath River. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, the Regional Board, U.S. EPA and many other partners are developing a watershed-wide tracking program to increase the pace and reduce the cost of improving Klamath Basin water quality to support all water-related uses in the Basin. The plan also addresses water quality impacts of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, establishes a policy to protect thermal refuges (cooler areas in the river that provide critical habitat for fish during high temperatures), and addresses nonpoint sources of pollution such as roads and agriculture.
source: EPA press release