UPPER SACRAMENTO RIVER
WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT OPERATIONAL PLAN
FOR THE CANTARA TRUSTEE COUNCIL

Approved March 11, 1997
 

INTRODUCTION

The Cantara Trustee Council (CTC) at its 18 September 1996 meeting approved funding of a water quality monitoring and enhanced regulatory program in the upper Sacramento River watershed to be conducted by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board. The CTC approved the five year program subject to its acceptance of a Water Quality Management Plan to be incorporated into the CTC's Strategic Plan. This plan fulfills the requirements of the CTC upon its final approval. The CTC in approving this five year program acknowledges the importance that water quality plays in the overall recovery of the upper Sacramento River. The upper Sacramento River which runs from Box Canyon Dam to Shasta Lake is one of California's most important cold water streams. The discharge of over 19,000 gallons of the herbicide metam sodium as the result of a derailment of a Southern Pacific train in July 1991 resulted in concentrations of the herbicide that virtually destroyed all aquatic life in this reach of the river. Although the concentrations of the herbicide dissipated rapidly after the spill to the point where it was no longer detected in the water Column within one month, the impact on aquatic life is still pronounced some five years later. Full recovery of aquatic life in the river is dependent on many factors, including the quality of water flowing in the river each and every day.
 


PURPOSE

This plan identifies the elements of the water quality monitoring program and describes the regulatory and management actions that will be taken by Regional Board staff to protect and enhance water quality and aquatic resources in the upper Sacramento River watershed.
 


GOALS AND OBJECTIVES


1. Develop and implement a baseline water quality monitoring program to determine existing water quality in the watershed and to identify water quality parameters that are not in compliance with established objectives of the Sacramento River Basin Plan.
 

2. Identify and prioritize water quality problems in the watershed that result in exceedence of water quality objectives or restrict the full recovery of aquatic life.
 

3. Implement corrective actions to eliminate or minimize discharges or activities that are causing water quality exceedences or impairment of full recovery.
 

4. Identify potential CTC grant projects for future funding that will provide enhanced protection of water quality or enhance recovery of aquatic life.
 
 

DISCUSSION

Water Quality Monitoring Program

A comprehensive water quality monitoring program will be implemented for the first time in the upper Sacramento River watershed. The initial program will consist of routine sampling for sediment and turbidity, temperature, nutrients, bacteria, petroleum products, and toxic or hazardous substances. This monitoring program will be designed to detect water quality impacts from the various point and non-point source discharges in the upper Sacramento River watershed. Water quality data will be compared with water quality objectives contained in the states' Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento River Basin (Basin Plan). Water quality data from existing monitoring programs such as implemented by the major permitted dischargers and the limited monitoring by USGS or other agencies will be incorporated into a single database.
 

Identify and Prioritize Water Quality Problems

The reaches of the river or tributaries found to contain pollutants in concentrations that exceed the Basin Plan objectives or are significantly above background concentrations will be listed and prioritized for follow up action according to their potential to impair full recovery of the river.
 

Implement Corrective Actions

Field inspections or investigations will be made by trained regulatory staff to identify specific discharges that require action to reduce or eliminate impacts to water quality identified through monitoring. In addition, agency or citizen complaints will be given immediate attention where there is potential for water quality impairment. The additional regulatory staff funded by the CTC will provide for a dramatically improved regulatory presence in the watershed. Regional Board staff will utilize authority provided in the Federal Clean Water Act and the California Water Code to issue waste discharge requirements, and to take enforcement actions such as the issuance of clean up and abatement orders, cease and desist orders, and civil or criminal penalties. Regional Board staff will coordinate with the area Fish and Game Warden regarding enforcement or regulatory actions which involve Fish and Game authority. Coordination between the agencies is essential to avoid duplicating effort and ensure the appropriate corrective action is taken. Regional Board staff will increase their participation in pre-project reviews of activities that may impact water quality: i.e. timber harvesting on private and Federal land, development projects, highway and railroad construction projects, projects involving the dredging or placement of fill and projects affecting wetlands. Regional Board staff will also increase inspection and surveillance of currently permitted discharges in the watershed.
 

Identify Projects for Future CTC Funding

The establishment of a comprehensive water quality monitoring program and increased regulatory presence in the upper Sacramento River watershed will assist in identifying potential projects for CTC funding. Areas in need of restoration to eliminate or reduce the discharge of pollutants or lands that should be acquired to correct or prevent such discharge will be identified.
 



IMPLEMENTATION

This Water Quality Management Plan will be implemented by Regional Board staff in early 1997. The duration of the monitoring and increased regulatory program will be five years from inception as directed by the CTC at its 18 September meeting. The CTC reserves the right to modify this plan and redirect Regional Board implementation in accordance with CTC procedures.

Implementation during the first year will consist of monitoring for the following priority pollutants listed in decreasing order of perceived impact on the upper Sacramento River and its tributaries.

 
 
Constituent
Initial Frequency
1. Sediment and Turbidity Minimum two per month at selected sites with emphasis during storm events.
2. Temperature Continuous recording June through October at eleven sites.
3. Nutrients and Bacteria Quarterly at ten locations
4. Petroleum Products and Hazardous Materials Sample urban runoff during the first runoff producing storm event of the season at two locations.
5. Ambient Chronic Toxicity Two screenings will be done in year one.

 

The increased regulatory efforts will initially focus on sediment sources including increased review and inspection of construction projects and most importantly timber harvesting operations. Corrective actions will be requested at sites where excess sediment is being or threatened to be discharged to the river or its tributaries. Likewise, increased review of timber harvesting will also focus on stream side canopy removal to reduce temperature increases in the tributaries. To reduce or eliminate dischargers of nutrients, bacteria, petroleum products and hazardous materials, Regional Board staff will increase inspection of sewage treatment plants, industrial facilities, and railroad operations in the watershed. An assessment of individual sewage disposal system use will be initiated the first year to identity suspected areas of system failures. These regulatory efforts will continue and be modified in response to monitoring results and inspection findings.