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A NEW APPROACH TO WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT IN THE SACRAMENTO RIVER WATERSHED

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In 1995 a new process began for water quality management in the Sacramento River watershed, when the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (District) received the first of six grants from Congress to begin a unique stakeholder-driven approach to water quality management in the watershed. The process is significant due both to its approach and the size and importance of the watershed involved. The Sacramento River watershed contains more than 26,000 square miles in area, beginning near the Oregon border and draining into the San Francisco-San Joaquin Delta on the south. The process being followed is new because of the combination of its cooperative perspective, and its development of broad management strategies. It therefore is an alternative to the traditional regulatory approach to water quality management. This paper also provides an overview of the present status and outlook for the program to date. While the District's key interest is water quality, it realized that any successful watershed-wide approach to water quality management must allow for consideration of all water-related interests. Consequently, the District helped to initiate the Sacramento River Watershed Program (SRWP). The SRWP uses an inclusive, interest-based stewardship approach to all of its activities. The approach includes making wise use of good data, defining beneficial uses, developing stakeholder-driven management strategies for pollutants of concern and developing site-specific water quality standards where appropriate. The vision for the program is that it will be a continuing, long-term effort, making sound decisions based on both good data and effective stakeholder involvement. Stakeholders in the SRWP have been defining the management approach since mid-1998 and decided to concentrate first on mercury and organophosphate pesticides. At the present time the SRWP approach to water quality management is a work in progress. TMDLs are scheduled to be developed by regulatory agencies. Some conflicts are arising over TMDL targets, and how the SRWP process will be included in the TMDL process. The SRWP provides a forum for these discussions, broadening public input into the TMDL process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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