This is a revision to a Regional Water Quality Control Board Staff Report dated December 9, 1997 which described a proposal to include a Water Quality Attainment Strategy (including a Total Maximum Daily Load) for the Garcia River Watershed (Strategy) into Section 4, Nonpoint Source Measures, of the Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Region (Basin Plan). Included in the December 9, 1997 Staff Report were a proposed Strategy and a proposal to include relevant portions of the Strategy into the Basin Plan. The Regional Water Board conducted a public hearing to consider the proposals described in the Staff Report, on January 22, 1998. At the January 22, 1998 public hearing, the Regional Water Board received considerable public comment, and the Regional Water Board closed the public hearing without action.
In response to many of the comments received, Regional Water Board staff have proposed changes to the December 9, 1997 Staff Report. The proposed changes include clarification language throughout the proposed Basin Plan amendment, further definition of the proposed approach to implement the Strategy, and clarification of the plan to monitor progress toward improvement of water quality and habitat improvement for the cold water fishery. In addition, this Staff Report contains revisions to the discussion of economic considerations presented in the December 9, 1997 Staff Report. Unlike the December 9, 1997 Staff Report, the Regional Water Board staff no longer propose that the Regional Water Board formally adopt the entire Strategy. The Strategy will be used as a staff level planning document that can be revised over time as factors affecting sediment conditions are better understood. The Basin Plan amendment proposed for adoption summarizes the Strategy and includes the Total Maximum Daily Load and the regulatory provisions of the Strategy.
As described in the Notice of Filing and Notice of Public Hearing dated April 2, 1998, the Regional Water Board proposes once again to adopt a Basin Plan amendment which will include conditional prohibitions against the discharge of sediment to the Garcia River. Under the proposal, dischargers of sediment to the Garcia River or its tributaries will be provided three options for complying with the Strategy and Basin Plan amendment. The options are as follows:
Option 1 Comply with the waste discharge prohibtions that apply within the Garcia River watershed.
Option 2 Prepare a Site-Specific Sedimentation Reduction Plan.
Option 3 Comply with the Garcia River Watershed Sedimentation Reduction Plan.
The proposed Basin Plan amendment describes the discharge prohibitions and the elements of the Site Specific Sedimentation Reduction Plan and the Garcia River Watershed Sedimentation Reduction Plan.
Because the Regional Water Board did not adopt a Total Maximum Daily Load for the Garcia River for Sediment by March 16, 1998, the extended date set forth in a consent decree resulting from a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region IX (EPA) by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations et al., the EPA promulgated a Garcia River Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) on March 16, 1998. The EPA utilized much of the information and analysis contained in the draft December 9, 1997 Strategy. However, the EPA TMDL differs from the Regional Water Board’s proposed Basin Plan amendment in certain respects, most notably:
1) Whereas the Basin Plan amendment proposes a phased approach, the EPA’s is a final TMDL. The EPA, nevertheless, has endorsed the phased approach set forth in the proposed Basin Plan amendment.
2) The EPA TMDL does not contain an implementation plan or a monitoring plan. However, the EPA TMDL does point out that it is the responsibility of states to identify implementation measures needed to implement the TMDL.