BEND, Ore. - A storm of controversy which has emerged from new proposals to improve water quality standards on many Oregon streams and rivers will be addressed at a conference July 25-26 in Bend, Ore.
Expected at the meetings are representatives of state, local and federal agencies, the governor's office, the forest products, ranching, pulp and paper industries, tribal groups and urban water quality managers.
The conference, titled "TMDL Issues: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," is sponsored by the Oregon Water Resources Research Institute at Oregon State University. Registration fees are $85 for the two-day meeting at the Riverhouse Resort in Bend, and can be made by contacting the OWRRI at (541) 737-4022 prior to July 12.
At issue, officials say, are draft proposals on a new list prepared by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. One proposal would raise the number of stream segments in Oregon listed as not meeting water quality standards from about 150 to more than 900, under Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act.
"Water quality standards are an important and controversial issue in Oregon as the list of water-quality-limited streams increase and total maximum daily load, or TMDL values are established," said Patricia Easley, an organizer of the symposium.
The new list is "more a change in federal guidance than it is a reflection of deteriorating water quality in Oregon," said a DEQ official.
A change in TMDL regulations, Easley said, could affect every permit holder, both industrial and municipal, who discharges into the 409 Oregon rivers and streams on the new list.
The conference in Bend will examine the new list, what it means to be "water quality limited," what is on the list and why, how stream temperature standards have an impact on water quality, who's collecting the data, what the future may bring, and many other issues, Easley said.