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Performance Report

EXECUTIVE OFFICER'S REPORT- July 2000

GENERAL

  1. U.S. Forest Service, Sierra Nevada plan amendments - Tom Suk

    The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has issued a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) to evaluate various options for managing national forests in the Sierra Nevada region. The stated intent of this planning effort is to revise management direction for all 11 national forests in the Sierra Nevada to incorporate the latest scientific knowledge regarding: (1) "old forest" ecosystems; (2) aquatic, riparian, and meadow ecosystems; (3) fire and fuels; (4) weeds; and (5) lower westside hardwood ecosystems. Staff has reviewed the document and prepared detailed comments.

  2. Tahoe Toms Gas Station, El Dorado County - Lisa Dernbach

    The responsible parties took over corrective actions at this site from the Regional Board starting on June 7, 2000. All remediation systems are operating and plume capture appears to be adequate, according to a report received by the consultant. Board staff is no longer conducting cleanup work under the EAR program.

    The responsible parties are complying with most conditions set forth in the ACL Order adopted the Board on June 14, 2000. Besides operating the remediation systems, the responsible parties are conducting ground water monitoring, and have submitted a workplan for installing additional monitoring wells. One condition not yet complied with is payment of $31,000 within 30 days of the public hearing. Board staff has not heard whether or not the Order will be petitioned to the State Board.

  3. Restoration and Assessment Project on the Upper Owens River and Crowley Lake in Mono County - Cindy Wise

    The U.C. Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL), partnering with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and coordinating with Lahontan staff, has begun a restoration and assessment project in the Upper Owens River and Crowley Lake. This project is funded in part by a Clean Water Act Nonpoint Source federal grant, with matching funds provided by both SNARL and LADWP.

    Crowley Lake is an important recreational resource and is the largest reservoir in the Los Angeles Aqueduct system. The Upper Owens River is tributary to Crowley Lake. Crowley Lake is currently eutrophic. In recent years, dense algal blooms have impacted its uses, and low dissolved oxygen has resulted in fish kills downstream. Uses of the watershed include cattle grazing, fish hatcheries, fishing, snow skiing, camping, and urban development.

    The purpose of the project is to restore a substantial length of the Upper Owens River immediately upstream of Crowley Lake by 1) implementing BMPs to reduce or prevent discharges associated with livestock grazing, irrigation, recreation, boating and physical habitat alteration; 2) determining the effectiveness of the restoration and BMPs by measuring a variety of recovery parameters; 3) implementing a strategy for specific pollutants; and 4) providing technology transfer, technical assistance and public education.

    The project started in late spring with a meeting of local stakeholders to explain the project and get input on sample locations; sampling began shortly after. This is a three-year project which will conclude in March 2003.

  4. Status of the Pioneer Trail Erosion Control Project - Mary Fiore-Wagner

    In 1998, the Board authorized the expenditure of funds from the Tahoe Keys Mitigation Fund for the Pioneer Trail Erosion Control Project (Project). The Project will be executed by El Dorado County and includes installation of curb and gutter, revegetation of road shoulders, slope stabilization, installation of sediment traps, and construction of a sediment basin. The Project will be designed to treat runoff from the Plateau Circle and High Meadows Court areas and direct discharges of runoff from Pioneer Trail into Trout Creek and Heavenly Valley Creek. Total approved funding for the Project is $185,000 including $10,000 for monitoring.

    The Resolution established a time schedule for the Project and proposed a construction completion date of October 15, 1999. El Dorado County has postponed the construction of the Project until 2001. The County's decision to delay the Project was based on the concern for excessive traffic congestion created from two other nearby projects, the City's Trout Creek Restoration Project and STPUD's A-line replacement project. Starting the Project during the 2001 construction season will allow the County to expand its BMP effectiveness monitoring study and collect pre-project data this year.

    In May 2000, the California Tahoe Conservancy Board approved $241,800 for a more comprehensive monitoring study at this project site. The expanded monitoring study will allow the County to evaluate the ground water levels, flow, and quality of water in, near, tributary to, and discharging from sediment basins. The study will also provide information regarding the nutrient uptake of the microbes in the soils, ground water, and vegetation. Information on evapotranspiration effects, rainfall data, and sediment accumulation will also be collected.

    Though the Regional Board chose to fund the Project based, in part, on the assurance of timely completion and implementation, I believe postponement will produce a more effective project. Delaying the Project will also produce monitoring data that is currently lacking but vital for future stormwater control and treatment designs in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

  5. Upper Truckee River Focused Watershed Group - Dale Payne

    The Upper Truckee River Focused Watershed Group (UTRFWG) is comprised of various agencies and interest groups, and has been the acting technical advisory committee for projects affecting the Upper Truckee River watershed. Until recently, the UTRFWG was working in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) on a Project Study Plan (PSP) and proposed Watershed Management Plan for the Upper Truckee River and watershed (these plans included a Feasibility Cost Share Agreement). I am considering terminating the cooperative arrangement due to language in the Feasibility Cost Share Agreement between the Regional Board and Army Corps that would give the Army Corps the ability to make unilateral decisions regarding changes in project or budget, and would make the Regional Board responsible for increased project costs.

    The UTRFWG met on July 6, 2000, and decided that in order to move forward with a watershed study, the potential contractors and scope of such a project need to be determined. A scoping sub-committee has been formed, and has met twice (July 18, 2000 and August 3, 2000) to begin to review the scope of work required for an assessment of the Upper Truckee River Watershed. A separate sub-committee has been formed to compile existing literature and data information into a database and will be determining what level of information is required for a watershed assessment.

    The next regularly scheduled meeting of the UTRFWG is September 7, 2000

  6. The Upper Truckee River and Trout Creek Non-Point Source Fecal Coliform Monitoring Program, Summer 2000 - Bruce Warden

    Regional Board staff is conducting a monitoring study of non-point sources (NPS) of fecal coliform and associated nutrients in the Upper Truckee River and Trout Creek during the summer of 2000.

    There are 10 monitoring stations that were selected to assess residential impacts, a private grazing operation with an implemented range management plan, and a private grazing operation with an interim range management plan (livestock have access to river). Staff began sampling in late June, prior to cattle grazing, and plans to continue sampling into the fall after cattle have been removed. Samples sets are taken approximately two times per week.

    Fecal coliform pollution was identified last year when staff collected samples in response to citizen complaints about private livestock grazing operations adjacent to Lake Tahoe. High concentrations of fecal coliform attributable to livestock grazing operations lead to issuance of a Notice of Violation on February 10, 2000, requiring the private landowner (Barton trust) to implement appropriate water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs) under an acceptable California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan. The plan will most likely involve exclusion of livestock from surface waters by fencing, and rotation of cattle between paddocks to minimize impacts to vegetation.

  7. Training on Written Communication - Stephen Niou

    A three day session from June 26 through 28,2000 on written communication was held at Board's South Lake Tahoe office. This training session was attended by many Regional Board staff from both offices. The training was conducted through the California Sate Training Center. the main focus of this training was effective technical written communication. The training session was well received by all staff and would aid them in carrying out their respective duties.

  8. California Toxics Rule Training - Tim Post

    On June 20 and 21, 2000 Regional Board staff (Board staff) attended training on Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA's) recently promulgated California Toxic Rule (CTR) and California's Implementation Policy. USEPA issued the CTR to control toxic pollutants in surface waters and implement the Clean Water Act's goals and objectives. The effective date of CTR was June 26, 2000.

    The CTR establishes new water-quality criteria for priority pollutants in inland surface waters, enclosed bays, and estuaries to protect aquatic life and human health beneficial uses. Aquatic life criteria (23 priority pollutants) apply to all non-ocean surface waters. Human health criteria (57 priority pollutants) apply to all MUN-designated waters. The CTR also authorizes compliance schedules that are not to exceed five years from permit issuance.

    A new requirement of CTR is that for each National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
    System (NPDES) permit, Board staff must make a determination of the reasonable potential of exceedance of the listed effluent limitation for each priority pollutant. If there is a reasonable potential of exceedance, the NPDES permit must contain calculated effluent standards for those pollutants. To perform these calculations, the discharger must submit data on: the hardness and salinity of the receiving waters, concentration at the discharge point and ambient concentration (background) in
    the receiving waters for the pollutants in question. These data must be received by June 26, 2003.

    Another new CTR requirement is that the Regional Board must require monitoring of dioxins to assess the presence and amounts discharged into non-ocean waters. By March 2001, the Regional Board must modify NPDES permitees or send written requests to require three years of effluent monitoring for dioxins. Major dischargers must sample during wet and dry periods for three consecutive years; minor dischargers must sample during a wet and dry period any one year within the three-year period.

  9. High Desert Power Plant (HDPP)-Certification - Gene Rondash

    The High Desert Power Project (HDPP) is proposing to bank up to 12,000 acre-ft of State Water Project (SWP) using dual-purpose injection/extraction well system. The project is still in planning stages and a complete Report of Waste Discharge (ROWD) has not been received as of August 7, 2000. The Waste Discharge Requirements are scheduled for the Board's consideration in March 2001 to meet HDPP target date of March 2003 to begin the water banking operation.

    The SWP water is proposed to be treated with state-of-the-art treatment processes to meet the State Department of Health Services primary/secondary water standards. The SWP water is proposed to be desalinized to meet the background water quality of the ground water prior to injection.

    Board staff does not anticipate that a non- degradation analysis will be needed because the proposed treatment standards which will be incorporated in the WDRs will ensure that injected water meets the appropriate standards to protect background water quality and drinking water standards.

  10. Owens Gorge Rewatering Project - Joe Kenny

    The Owens River Gorge is located within the Owens Valley north of the town of Bishop in Inyo County. Water flows through the Owens River Gorge and is managed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). It is bounded upstream by Crowley reservoir (north) and downstream by Pleasant Valley (south). Due to the diversion of 16 cfs, a 10-mile section of the Owens Gorge between the Upper Gorge and Center Gorge power plants remained dry from August 1953 to June 1991.

    An Interim Flow Agreement was signed in 1994 between Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Inyo County, with the main goal of rewatering the Gorge to establish and sustain fish life. Early in the rewatering process, LADWP recognized the need for the entire Gorge ecosystem to be fully functional in order to
    establish and sustain a fishery. This is the fifth year of a five-year period during which various flows regimes are being evaluated. On June 6, 2000, LADWP initiated a ten-day pulse flow designed to promote riparian vegetation by wetting banks and spreading seeds, and to enhance fish habitat by creating pools and other channel features. Flow in the river was gradually increased from the base flow of 56 cfs until it reached a flow of 120 cfs on June 10. The system appeared to respond favorably to the pulse flow. After holding the peak flow at 120 cfs for two days, the flow was ramped down to the newly recommended base flow of 65 cfs on June 15. Even though the fish goal is paramount, riparian vegetation, biodiversity, wildlife and wetland habitat requirements must also be met in a healthy, fully functional ecosystem.

    The flows are being evaluated by Department of Fish and Game (DFG), LADWP and others to recommend a permanent flow regime. Regional Board staff attended a meeting regarding the rewatering on June 14, 2000 and will continue to be involved in the project. Technical information from this project will be valuable to apply to the Lower Owens River rewatering project also.

  11. Van Leeuwen Dairy Conditional Use Permit - Joe Koutsky

    On June 29, 2000, Regional Board Staff (Board staff) attended a San Bernardino County Planning Commission Hearing to comment on the County's proposal to require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in consideration of the Van Leeuwen Dairy's Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application.

    Earlier in the year Richard Van Leeuwen applied to the County for a CUP to convert an existing 2,000-heifer feeding operation near Oro Grande into a 1,500-cow dairy. This site is within one-half mile of the Mojave River.

    In response to the application, San Bernardino County prepared an Initial Study determining that an EIR was required to either approve the existing operation or to convert the operation to a dairy. Board staff was concerned with the dairy conversion proposal and provided written comments that the potential impacts to water quality within the Mojave River floodplain should be evaluated as art of the CEQA process.

    At the hearing, staff concurred with the County's assertion that studies were needed to address the potential impacts to the ground water, and how the State's requirements for Animal Waste Management would be met.

    The Planning Commission voted to continue the hearing to October 19, 2000, after representatives of the Milk Producers Council proposed to meet Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board's (LRWQCB) information requirements. The additional time will allow the County staff and project proponents to determine if there's enough information available to issue a mitigated negative declaration rather than requiring an EIR. Board staff is preparing to meet with the proponent and the County to address the issues presented in the Initial Study.

  12. State-Wide Reallocation of Regional Board Resources -Bob Dodds

    The State and Regional Boards have for the past year been evaluating the Boards' resource needs for the "core" programs (about 55% of the Boards' resources). The core programs for this analysis include NPDES, Underground Storage Tanks, Waste Discharge Requirements for disposal to land, and Water Quality Certifications. This was done to better justify to the administration, the legislature, and others, both total program needs and the distribution of resources among regions.

    The needs analysis found that only a fraction of the Regional Boards' needs are met for any program. The State Board is now proposing to reallocate the Regional Boards' current total core program resources so that all Regional Boards have the same "fair share" of the available resources compared to their needs. In almost all of these core programs, this Regional Board is calculated to have a lower share than the overall average, so that in equalizing the shares of needs, we gain a total of 2.2 staff. With the addition of new resources from this fiscal year's budget, we are expected to increase from 64 to 72 positions (a 12% increase over last year). Only two years ago (FY 98-99) we were budgeted for 51 positions. Since then we have grown 41%.

    ENFORCEMENT

  13. IMC Chemicals Inc. - Petroleum Contamination on Searles Lake - Greg Cash

    On July 7, 2000 I issued a Cleanup and Abatement Order (CAO) to IMC Chemicals, Inc. (IMCC) and the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Responsible Parties, to clean up the effects of waste discharged to Searles Lake from the Trona, Argus, and Westend Facilities. The CAO requires the Discharger (IMCC) to submit Technical Reports, a Work Plan, and Cleanup Plans to address the cleanup of the petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated soil, sediment and water in the Searles Lake area, as well as implementing the cleanup, to significantly reduce the number of waterfowl deaths. The CAO incorporates the requirements of the California Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) CAO issued on February 18, 2000.

    A letter requesting a comprehensive analysis of the petroleum hydrocarbon contamination of the brine discharged from the Trona and Argus Facilities was issued to IMCC on May 18, 2000. IMCC's subsequent response to this request was received on May 24, 2000, which represented IMCC's current assessment of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in both Searles Lake, as well as the plants' brine effluent. The report also outlined current techniques being used for the removal of petroleum hydrocarbons from the brine. Gravity is currently used to
    remove separable, or settlable hydrocarbons. Emulsified hydrocarbons, however, require the use of flotation techniques, such as air bubbles, to allow the hydrocarbons to rise to the liquid surface to be mechanically skimmed.

    IMCC was ordered to complete an evaluation, and submit a report by June 30, 2000 of possible improvements or alterations to current techniques used for the removal of hydrocarbons from discharged brine. IMCC was to determine possible measures that can be implemented to reduce the concentrations of hydrocarbon contaminants to below detection levels. Several methods were evaluated and the Discharger is currently facilitating a pilot test for use of filters to reduce the petroleum hydrocarbon discharges.

    IMCC has been submitting weekly progress reports describing status of compliance with the CDO. As of July 7, 2000 three weekly reports have been submitted. Discharge from the Trona Plant has been exceeding the 10-day rolling average for kerosene and non-kerosene total petroleum hydrocarbons periodically. A Notice of Violation (NOV) was issued by staff for these exceedences. IMCC has implemented various hazing activities to minimize waterfowl deaths, which includes Mylar flags suspended on elevated lines, propane cannons, shotguns loaded with bird repellant explosive shells, nets and human scaring or rescuing measures as appropriate. Additional steps have been taken by IMCC to comply with the requirements of the WDRs and the CDO.

    IMCC has also petitioned the SWRCB to request a review of the tly adopted WDRs and CDO


    REORGANIZATION

  14. Changes In Carson/Walker Watershed Unit; Creation of Leviathan Mine Unit - Alan Miller

    Chris Stetler, P.E., Senior Water Resource Control Engineer, will now supervise a new organizational unit in the South Lake Tahoe office- the Leviathan Mine Unit. Several staff formerly assigned to the Carson/Walker Watersheds Unit (C/WWU) are now reassigned to the Leviathan Mine Unit. An additional staff person is being sought to fill a current vacancy in the Leviathan Mine Unit. Meanwhile, work on mine pollution abatement continues uninterrupted and at an excellent pace.

    In addition, Tom Suk, formerly an Environmental Specialist III with the C/WWU, has been promoted to the position of Senior Environmental Specialist IV. He will report the Assistant Executive Officer, and be the Region's Monitoring Coordinator. Tom will oversee Region-wide ambient surface water quality monitoring programs (part of a new Statewide legislative mandate).

    These changes have temporarily reduced staffing in the C/WWU. The unit's top priority is filling the vacancies created by the above changes, and job offers are in the process of being made.