Our Opinion: Speaking up on TMDs

April 25, 2001

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board has released a draft of its total maximum daily load regulations for silt and sedimentation in the Alamo River, and now the clock is running.

The release of that report means there is a limited time to view the draft and respond before the water quality control board votes on whether to finalize the TMDL regulations. That vote will be June 27.

We urge all interested Imperial Valley residents to review the draft and respond. The report calls for the Imperial Valley farmers to cut silt and sediment in the Alamo by 50 percent, from 400 to 200 milligrams per liter.

The report states such a reduction is necessary because the river has been designated as having "limited" water quality. According to the state, the sediment carries toxins and other elements that are dangerous to fish and wildlife that depend on the river and to people who eat fish from the river.


There are a number of issues that must be considered in setting a TMDL regulation. The farming community has raised concerns that a TMDL that is too stringent could make it too expensive to farm in the Imperial Valley. What the TMDL means is farmers are going to have to cut the runoff from their farms into Imperial Irrigation District ag drains and ultimately the Alamo.

That will be a costly venture for farmers, who already are moving forward with voluntarily reductions on silt flowing off their farms. We agree with Lauren Grizzle, executive director of the Imperial County Farm Bureau, who said farmers should not have to fear a fine if they cannot bring about a 50-percent reduction in silt and sediment. We agree farmers should be credited for taking steps to reduce silt even if they fail to reach the 200 milligram mark.

The issue is not a matter for long-distance discussions. There is not a lot of time to react. If you want to have your voice heard, you have to respond to the board now. Comments will be accepted through June 12.

We are sure the local farming community and local leaders will respond. They understand this is a critical issue for the Imperial Valley. The state says the 200 milligram regulation represents a compromise. We question how much of a compromise it is.

The TMDL regulation is going to affect us for many years and the silt/sedimentation regulation is only one of several TMDL actions that could affect the Valley in years to come. We have to continue to be vocal to make certain state and federal officials consider our concerns. Copies of the draft can be viewed at most public libraries in the Imperial Valley and at this newspaper.

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