Klamath Falls, Ore. – Temperature pollution. It’s the latest focus of an Oregon Department of Environmental Quality study to protect the Klamath River, and it’s a study that could impact your pocketbook.
The study addresses the thermal impacts of water discharge.
“It is detrimental to fish, and aquatic life.” Explains Mike Hiatt of the Oregon DEQ. “If temperatures get too high, then endangered species become threatened.”
In Klamath Falls, there are two water treatment plants, and two lumber mills along the Klamath River.
New temperature requirements could affect daily operations at all of them.
The study focuses on ‘TMDL’s’, or ‘Total Maximum Daily Loads’.
“The temperature TMDL will be very impactful.” Notes Klamath Falls Public Works Director Mark Willrett. “We’re not sure exactly how we’re going to deal with it, but we’ll know more as the TMDL is finalized.”
Hiatt commented on the goal of the study. “To help influence either drainage into the system, or help influence it and come up with ideas to resolve the thermal issues.”
If improvements need to be made at the Klamath Falls Water Treatment Plant, the costs could result in higher utility bills.
“That potential definitely exists.” Notes Willrett. “Our goal is to continue working with DEQ, and try to come up with some options that hopefully don’t impact our rate payers nearly as much.”
A public comment period on the DEQ’s draft plan ends at 5:pm on Monday, July 15th.
“Right now, we’re under a court-mandated deadline.” Says Hiatt. “So this particular TMDL that’s drafted will be issued by September 30th.”
The same study focuses in large part on the Klamath, and Lost River watersheds.
You’ll find more information at the DEQ website: https://www.oregon.gov/deq/FilterDocs/UKlamathLostRiverTMDL.pdf