Final Report on Sediment Impairment and Effects on Beneficial Uses of the Elk River and Stitz, Bear, Jordan and Freshwater Creeks

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North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

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The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB) convened an Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) in August 2002 to address three questions which will assist the NCRWQCB in fulfilling its mission to protect and restore sediment impaired beneficial uses of waters of the state in Freshwater, Bear, Jordan, Stitz, and Elk watersheds in Humboldt County, California. The assignment to the ISRP is detailed in the Terms of Reference (TOR) in Appendix A. A compendium of 22 documents was transmitted to the Panel on August 14th along with a list of additional documents that would be made available upon request. The ISRP interacted by email and conference calls during the months of August through December 2002.

The Panel conducted face-to-face deliberations in Eureka, California, from October 9th to 11th. During that time, the Panel participated in a site visit and fly-over of all five watersheds, received input from the stakeholders, and discussed the three questions assigned by NCRWQCB. The Panel endeavored to make use of available data and worked to evaluate the quality of science and make recommendations for strengthening future analysis.

The three questions addressed by the Panel and the Panel's findings are summarized. The order has changed from that presented in the TOR. Please note, the Panel acknowledges that the five watersheds in question have different physical characteristics and that the approach to addressing issues of water quality in each will have to be tailored to the specific watershed.