The Roza Sunnyside Board of Joint Control Water Quality Policy

 

       Just select one of the links below to read the material in that segment:

Background

Why the push to improve water quality?

Policy details

Who determined the policy?

Will it work?

How does the policy effect landowners?

What is turbidity?

Results

 

Click here to review the RSBOJC Water Quality Policy brochure in Adobe .pdf format. 

 

Background

       In 1996, the Roza Irrigation District (RID) and the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District (SVID) formed a Board of Joint Control in response to the 1992-94 drought. Initially, the primary objective of creating a joint board was to enhance water conservation and efficiencies and co-manage water resources during drought years. Soon after, the responsibilities of the Roza-Sunnyside Board of Joint Control (RSBOJC) grew to include water quality issues. 

 

Why improve water quality?

        There are two major driving forces behind the push for better water quality. They include the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Clean Water Act (CWA). 

       The ESA effects irrigation districts because it aims to protect salmon, bull trout, and steelhead. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U. S. Department of Fish and Wildlife are the federal agencies responsible for designating endangered species and ensuring recovery. They can take broad steps to protect the fish, including regulation of all activity that affects water quality.

       Under the CWA, the Department of Ecology (WDOE) develops Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals for all water bodies not meeting water quality standards outlined in the CWA. The lower Yakima River is one such system. After reviewing the Yakima River, the WDOE determined that all points of discharge to the Yakima River must be compliant with a turbidity target of 25 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) by the end of 2002, thus a TMDL goal was established for suspended sediments. What is turbidity? Turbidity is a measurement of water clarity and correlates to the amount of suspended sediments in the lower Yakima River.

 

Policy details

  • The RSBOJC will monitor water discharged from irrigated property or entering project waterways throughout the irrigation season.

  • Each time the RSBOJC collects a water sample the landowner will receive notice of the results.

  • All irrigation runoff discharged to project waterways either directly or indirectly from lands within RSBOJC boundaries must comply with targets established by the RSBOJC as follows: When a NTU reading exceeds 300 from a water sample, the discharger/operator will be in violation of the policy.

  • If a landowner violates the current water quality target they will be required to complete and submit both a short-term and long-term water quality plan.

  • If the short-term plan is not submitted, approved, and implemented, the RSBOJC will reduce water delivery services. Water will not be turned on the following irrigation season until the landowner submits a long-term plan.

Who determined the policy?  

       The RSBOJC Water Quality Policy was developed with support and input from local landowners, SVID and RID staff and Directors, and local, state, and federal environmental agencies. The policy was adopted by the RSBOJC in 1997. 

 

Will it work?

       With cooperation from landowners, experts believe the RSBOJC Water Quality Policy will enable us to meet water quality requirements mandated by the CWA by 2002. If irrigation districts and landowners cannot make these improvements themselves, it is feared that state and federal agencies may implement stricter methods of enforcement.

 

How does the policy effect landowners?

       Landowners are being asked to enter a partnership with the RSBOJC. The goal is to have each landowner clean up the irrigation water before it leaves the farm. If each landowner does their part, everyone will have cleaner water to irrigate with. Clean water benefits landowners, irrigators, and the environment.

 

What is turbidity?

       Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. It correlates to the amount of sediment in water and is an inexpensive, yet effective measuring tool. As implemented by the WDOE, turbidity is used to evaluate whether or not the waterway is within the WDOE TMDL of 25 NTU. The primary reason suspended sediment is being targeted is because of DDT, which attaches to soil particles. The more soil particles entering a water way, the more DDT. 

Comparison of turbid water

       

       Water quality targets are easier to understand when you compare the samples (above). Shown are water quality samples ranging from 25 NTU on the left through 2000 NTU on the far right.

       The Water Quality Policy addresses the worst areas first by setting numerical targets from three or less water quality samples.  The goal for the 2003 irrigation season is 100 NTU (the second bottle from the left, above).

 

Results

Recent Drain Study Reports   

 

Click here to read the RSBOJC Fish Survey Report.

Click here to read the RSBOJC Drain Habitat Report (pages 1-48)

Click here to read the RSBOJC Drain Habitat Report Appendix (data)

 

 

 

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