After several years of research, outreach, data analysis and effort, DEQ’s water quality team issued on Nov. 22 a revised plan called a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, to reduce mercury in the Willamette Basin. (See OPB coverage) One week later, the EPA sent DEQ a letter disapproving the TMDL. EPA now has 30 days to issue its TMDL.
“DEQ is disappointed with EPA’s action,” wrote Jennifer Wigal, deputy administrator for water quality. “Implementation of DEQ’s revised TMDL would be protective of Willamette Basin streams, eventually meet water quality standards throughout the basin and continue to reduce mercury levels and make it safer for communities to eat fish from the river basin. DEQ’s revised TMDL represented a balanced approach, informed by scientific research and substantially more data than the 2006 TMDL.”
DEQ will continue to work with EPA to understand the implications of this action to ensure that an EPA plan meets the goal of protecting the health of people who consume fish from the Willamette Basin. DEQ will continue to communicate with affected parties as details of the process forward are clarified.
The Willamette Mercury TMDL website has more information, including the EPA letter.