Water | Ecotrope

EPA approves pollution limits for Klamath River

Ecotrope | Jan. 5, 2011 2:38 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:42 p.m.

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Thirteen years after settling a lawsuit with environmental groups over pollution in California rivers, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved a clean-up plan for the troubled Klamath River.

The Klamath carries both “wild and scenic” and “impaired” federal designations, and it’s the lifeblood for the third-largest run of salmon on the West Coast. Fishermen, tribes, farmers and four PacifiCorp dams rely on its extensive watershed, which covers 12,600 square miles across southern Oregon and northern California.

The EPA’s move this week seals California’s plan for cleaning up the river, which includes a 57 percent reduction of phosphorous and a 32 percent cut in nitrogen from the river – two pollutants that come from agricultural runoff – as well as annual reductions from the river’s reservoirs.

Tribes, environmental groups and fishermen say the plan is long overdue, but PacifiCorps and agricultural groups have opposed it. One power company official called it “inappropriate and unacheivable.” The plan will need funding for implementation. Oregon’s clean-up plan for the Klamath is next in line. It has been developed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the EPA is expected to approve that plan later this month.

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