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EPA Finalizes Water Quality Plan For North Fork Eel River
Release Date: 1/2/2003
Contact Information: Laura Gentile, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4227
Specifies conditions needed to protect threatened salmon and steelhead
SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a water quality plan for the North Fork Eel River and tributaries this week in an effort to restore and protect salmon and steelhead habitat.
The plan, known as a total maximum daily load, or "TMDL," specifies reductions in stream temperature and sediment necessary to protect several species of fish, some of which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The North Coast Region of the California Water Quality Control Board is now responsible for developing plans to implement the TMDL, which meet legal requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. The US Forest Service is already taking steps to protect natural vegetation.
Timber harvesting, runoff from dirt roads, and natural conditions have contributed to high stream temperatures and excess sediment, which have contributed to the decline of the river's native fish populations. The TMDL recommends reducing the amount of human erosion to one part for every four parts nature contributes. The TMDL also requires actions that will increase the amount of shade to the river, such as allowing the natural vegetation to grow back.
The EPA and the state held informal public meetings in the fall to discuss the plan. In 1999, EPA completed the TMDL for the South Fork of the Eel River and plans to complete the TMDL for the Middle Fork by the end of the year.