Water Board to Consider New Elk River Permit for Humboldt Redwood Company

By
Thursday, May 30th, 2019

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) will hold hearing in Eureka on June 19th to consider adopting a newly-revised sediment pollution control permit for Humboldt Redwood Company in the Upper Elk River Watershed.

The Regional Board has scheduled to consider the new and revised permitting framework for HRC in Elk River on Wednesday June 19th at 1:30 p.m. at the Eureka City Council chambers at Eureka City Hall, at 513 K Street in Eureka. The hearing is open to the public and EPIC encourages interested members and supporters to attend.

The newly-revised sediment pollution control permit for HRC’s Elk River timber operations and related activities is to be considered in response to an August 1, 2017 resolution and directive from the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) to the Regional Board indicating that permits for both HRC and Green Diamond Resource Company that allow for continued timber harvest and controllable sediment and other pollution discharges into the Elk River Watershed needed revision to be consistent with the Upper Elk River Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), and the Action Plan for the Upper Elk River Sediment TMDL, which were both adopted by the Regional Board in 2016.

The State Board directed the Regional Board to revisit and revise permits for both HRC and Green Diamond in Elk River as soon as possible after August 1, 2017, but by no later than January of 2019. The Regional Board, however has dragged its heels on revising the permits for both HRC and Green Diamond, with the HRC permit revision only now scheduled for hearing on June 19, and no indication when, whether, or if a new and revised permit will be noticed to the public for consideration to address Green Diamond’s Elk River timber operations needed to attain consistency with the Upper Elk River TMDL and TMDL Action Plan.

EPIC submitted extensive comments to the Regional Board on the proposed revisions to the proposed-revised permit for HRC and its Elk River timber operations and related activities on April 15. Our comments to the Regional Board can be viewed here.

The Regional Water Board has not done enough, or soon enough to address controllable sediment pollution inputs to the Elk River from contemporary and ongoing timber operations by both HRC and Green Diamond, despite the fact that the Regional Board itself established a “zero load allocation” when adopting the Elk River TMDL—meaning, the river system is overwhelmed with sediment inputs to the point where no more sediment can be delivered while still meeting water quality objectives/standards. Yet, the Regional Board continues to permit and enroll timber harvest for both HRC and Green Diamond in Elk River, and under permits that the Regional Board itself knows are not adequate to control new sediment inputs in light of the TMDL and TMDL load allocation. More simply, put, zero really doesn’t mean zero, at least not in this case.

EPIC staff will attend and testify at the hearing in Eureka on June 19th and encourage our members and supporters to show up and have their voices heard in defense of the Elk River.