DEQ will ask the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to approve proposed rule amendments to:
- Declare the North Fork Smith River in Oregon, and its tributaries and associated wetlands, as Outstanding Resource Waters under Oregon's antidegradation regulations under the Clean Water Act
- Establish policies to protect the unique water quality values and outstanding values and ecological characteristics of the North Fork Smith River and its tributaries and associated wetlands
DEQ will accept public comments on this proposed rulemaking until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. You may submit comments electronically at the website for this rulemaking: North Fork Smith River 2017 Rulemaking. You may also send comments directly to DEQ at the following address:
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Attn.: Aron Borok
700 NE Multnomah Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232
DEQ will also accept comments from the public at two hearings on this proposed rulemaking.
The first public hearing will be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, at:
DEQ Headquarters, 3rd Floor
700 NE Multnomah St.
Portland, OR 97232
The second hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, at:
Best Western Harbor Inn
16008 Boat Basin Rd.
Brookings, OR 97415
The public can participate in both hearings by video webinar or audio teleconference:
Video Webinar Link: Webinar link
Teleconference Call-in Number: 888-363-4734
Teleconference Participant ID: 1910322
Instructions for joining webinar or teleconference: Webinar instructions
To view copies of the notice documents, learn more about this rulemaking, and how to submit comments, you can view the rulemaking web page linked to above.
If you want to receive future email notices about this rulemaking, you must sign up at: DEQ Govdelivery.
You can also obtain more information about this rulemaking by contacting:
The person filing the petition is Gordon R Lyford.
File Number: 264264-94
Filing State: Oregon (OR)
Filing Status: Active
Filing Date: January 21, 2005
Company Age: 11 Years, 9 Months
Registered Agent: Gordon R Lyford
Po Box 118
O'brien, OR 97534
822 Lone Mountain Rd
O'brien, OR 97534
Wild Rivers Water Rights is an Oregon Assumed Business Name filed on January 21, 2005 . The company's filing status is listed as Active and its File Number is 264264-94.
The Registered Agent on file for this company is Gordon R Lyford and is located at Po Box 118, O'Brien, OR 97534. The company's principal address is 822 Lone Mountain Rd, O'Brien, OR 97534.
The company has 1 principal on record. The principal is Gordon R Lyford from O'Brien OR.
On January 4, 2016, Gordon Lyford submitted a petition to the Environmental Quality Commission and DEQ on behalf of a group of conservation and fishing organizations to designate the North Fork Smith River as an Outstanding Resource Water. Mr. Lyford withdrew the petition a few weeks later and resubmitted it with changes on February 23, 2016. State regulations require that the Environmental Quality Commission consider the petition within 90 days and either deny the petition, direct DEQ to initiate rulemaking proceedings, or deny the petition and direct DEQ to take other action.
The petition proposed amendments to DEQ’s antidegradation rule at OAR 340-041-0004 designating the North Fork Smith River and its tributaries Outstanding Resource Waters. In addition, the petition proposes amending the basin-specific criteria for the South Coast Basin at OAR 340-041-0305 as follows:
1) The North Fork Smith River and all of its tributaries and wetlands are ORWs.
2) The high water quality, ecological values, and existing and designated uses of these waters shall be maintained;
3) DEQ shall not allow new or expanded NPDES permitted discharges to these waters, upstream waters, or tributaries to these waters;
4) No activities shall be allowed that would degrade the water quality, ecological characteristics or values of these waters;
5) Exceptions may be made to respond to public emergencies or for restoration or enhancement of water quality or ecological values.
DEQ provided an opportunity for the public to submit comments on the petition2 and received comments from more than 1000 people supporting the petition. These comments noted the qualities and values of the North Fork Smith River including its exceptional water quality and clarity; pristine nature; lack of dams; valuable fisheries including the Coho salmon, a threatened species in the Southern Oregon and Northern California coastal region; unique geology; rare wetland plants; recreational opportunities; and natural beauty. Some commenters also noted the importance of the North Fork Smith River to downstream users including tribes and as a source of drinking water to several communities. Commenters also stated that the ORW designation was needed to protect the river from potential mining and logging impacts and to protect it for future generations.
DEQ also received comments from more than ten parties opposing the petition. In summary, the comments stated that:
• ORW designation is unnecessary to protect water quality of the North Fork Smith River;
• The petition bypasses the ORW screening process outlined in DEQ’s antidegradation regulations;
• The ORW designation is inconsistent with the management plan for the Rogue River National Forest;
• The designation may restrict timber harvest and grazing and thus prevent economic opportunity;
• The designation creates impediments to mining, eliminates the ability to obtain new water rights, eliminates activities with minor impacts that would not violate water quality standards; and
• The activities of dredge miners, which might be restricted, do more environmental good than harm.
DEQ staff presented information to the EQC on April 20, 2016, about the petition and the public comment received. At the meeting, the EQC directed DEQ to conduct rulemaking on the proposed rule language in the petition. In addition, the EQC directed DEQ to use the technical analyses from DEQ’s June 1995 ORW Implementation Plan (DEQ 1995) in evaluating the proposed ORW designation for the North Fork Smith River. Section 3 of this issue paper contains DEQ’s evaluation of this proposal relative to the 1995 ORW Implementation Plan.
1 Unless otherwise noted, references in this paper to the "NF Smith River" refers to the portion of the North Fork Smith River within Oregon and its tributaries.
2 OAR 137-001-0070(3)
Aron Borok, 503-229-5050
Outstanding Resource Waters are high quality waters that constitute an outstanding state resource due to their extraordinary water quality or ecological values, or where special protection is needed to maintain critical habitat areas. The Environmental Quality Commission adopted Oregon’s ORW policy, part of the state’s antidegradation policy, in 1991 and may be found at OAR 340-041-0004(8). To date, no waters have been designated ORWs in Oregon.
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Submit a comment
Comment period closes at 4 p.m. Feb. 28, 2017.
Public Notice Packet
Includes invitation to comment, notice, proposed rules, and any supporting documents
Advisory committee on North Fork Smith River Outstanding Resource Waters
DEQ has appointed an advisory committee to provide input on shaping the rules necessary to implement this designation.
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