April 05 --A state water agency is meeting in Redding next week to consider naming dozens of streams in the state "impaired" because of poor water quality that kills off fish that once flourished there.
Two North State streams -- the Shasta and Scott rivers -- are included on the proposed list of impaired streams, said David Leland , assistant executive officer for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board .
The board will take public comment Wednesday on a proposal to name 29 more streams and lakes to the list of water bodies considered impaired under the federal Clean Water Act. The first statewide list was developed in 2010.
The Scott River made the list as the result of high sediment levels and high water temperatures, Leland said. The Shasta River is impaired by high temperatures and low oxygen levels, he said.
Several environmental advocacy groups, fishing associations and American Indian Tribes sent out statements this week urging the board to place the two rivers on the impaired list.
Leaf Hillman with the Karuk Tribe in Siskiyou County said salmon in the rivers are being killed by poor water quality caused by low water levels.
" The Scott River and other North Coast rivers are literally sucked dry, leaving salmon no place to spawn and robbing the Karuk and other tribal people of a critical cultural resource," Hillman said in a statement.
Officials with the salmon fishing industry also urged the board to protect the rivers.
"It is time for the board to acknowledge and take action to address 'flow impaired' rivers and streams so we can protect economically important salmon runs," said Zeke Grader of the pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
Leland said after streams are placed on the list the state is required to analyze the cause of poor water quality and determine what needs to be done to fix it. Work already has begun along those rivers to plant streamside trees and brush to provide shade and lower water temperatures, he said.
High temperatures in the water, which are harmful to spawning salmon, also can be caused by warm irrigation water returning from fields to the streams, Leland said. That warm irrigation water also can carry water with high levels of nutrients back into streams, which rob oxygen from the water, he said.
The board and other agencies are working with farmers and ranchers near the Shasta and Scott rivers to reduce the amount of water they use for irrigation, which would leave more water in the streams. At times during the summer and fall, the rivers run dry in places, he said.
The water board staff has recommended increasing the amount of water being released from Dwinnell Dam into the Shasta River by 45 cubic-feet per second. Higher water levels would also improve water quality, Leland said.
If you go
What: Public workshop for the North Coast 2012 integrated report for the surface water quality assessment and the 303(d) list of impaired waters.
When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday .
Where: Main conference room at the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board office, 364 Knollcrest Drive , Suite 205, Redding .
Information: For more information, go to http://bit.ly/1mG2Jsw or call Katharine Carter at 707-576-2290. To read the report, go to http://bit.ly/1jHjzqY .
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