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Thread: Kenai Watershed Forum Study

  1. #1

    Default Kenai Watershed Forum Study

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...s-exceed-state


    Does anybody else wonder if they're making a mountain out of a mole hill?

    I found this line the most interesting.....

    "The turbidity levels considered safe for all three uses were exceeded for SEVERAL HOURS in July throughout all three years of study."

    Does a whole new usage plan need to be adopted or do we just need to do this for SEVERAL HOURS every year in July.

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    Wink Depends . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by tcman View Post
    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...s-exceed-state

    Does anybody else wonder if they're making a mountain out of a mole hill?

    I found this line the most interesting.....

    "The turbidity levels considered safe for all three uses were exceeded for SEVERAL HOURS in July throughout all three years of study."

    Does a whole new usage plan need to be adopted or do we just need to do this for SEVERAL HOURS every year in July.



    Whether a mountain or a mole hill will depend, I suspect, on whom you ask. Those running power boats in July will likely offer one opinion, those who'd like to see a drift boat fishery will offer another.

    The beat goes on . .

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    So, can anyone offer comparison figures for the Matanuska and Susitna Rivers? Or the lower Yukon? Or the Copper and tributaries? Or the Washington Elwha with the dams removed and debris flows at full throttle?

    The fish go where they go. The pure water enthusiasts will be all over this while ignoring all the glacial salmon streams.
    Terry

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    Wink Problem, what problem?

    tcman,

    Check this article in today's Peninsula Clarion for more information of the turbidity question: http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2012-11-17

    Here we go again: objective science is raising environmental concerns which will be pooh-poohed by vested interests in the status quo. One can expect to hear disparaging labels from opposition to the Kenai Watershed Forum's study—"greenies," "pure-water-enthusiasts," "eco-freaks," and such—all the while denying any such problem exists.

    Everyone likes science . . we've heard it time and again . . except for when science threatens their apple-cart.

    Stay tuned . . . problem, what problem . . .


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    Thanks Marcus.

    Reading the comment section of Clarion certainly points to where this discussion is heading. Should be a very interesting winter.

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    From Friday's article in the Clarion: http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...eed-stateWhile Stevens said it was unlikely that anyone was drinking or swimming in the river, those designated uses are easier to violate than turbidity standards for fish and wildlife.

    The turbidity levels considered safe for all three uses were exceeded for several hours in July throughout all three years of the study."

    Also from the same article: "Stevens said a water body cannot be in listed as in violation of state standards for turbidity due to naturally occurring conditions."

    Do I recall the Kenai being quite turbid due to the outflow of the Killey River the past two years in July?

    Seems to me that Les Palmer alluded to this over the past summer in one of his columns.

    That pretty well answers my question about the glacial rivers with salmon returns. They don't count because they are much worse in turbidity terms and the fish come back anyway.

    So we get to "several hours in July..." as the crucial determinate. A lovely weasel word description. Was it two hours, or two thousand? And how many days did it cover?

    It would seem that we have already conceded it likely has no long-term deleterious effect on fish, does not affect drinking water that no one seems ro use, does not affect swimming, and have not addressed Killey River contributions.

    Based on the available information, color me skeptical.

    Having said that, power boat use in the lower river can clearly cause wake effects on the shoreline and increase near shore turbidity. You can likely get that from the Marina on down most all summer.

    Now lets discuss Killey River turbidity. It can be substantial and prolonged. It is naturally occurring, so it does not count in report writing. But in the alternative world of REAL, is it any more or less prolonged than the boat wake turbidity for "several hours in July".

    Noticing these things is not "...objective science is raising environmental concerns which will be pooh-poohed by vested interests in the status quo." It is merely noticing the obvious. We clearly have different standards for different streams. It is possible the the pure water enthusiasts are overstating their case.
    Terry



    If it is a few hours in July,

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    Red face Science, what science . . ?

    . . Do I recall the Kenai being quite turbid due to the outflow of the Killey River the past two years in July? . .
    That . . answers my question about the glacial rivers . . They don't count because they are much worse in turbidity . .
    . . "several hours in July..." A . . weasel word description. . .
    . . it likely has no long-term deleterious effect on fish, does not affect drinking water . . does not affect swimming, . . color me skeptical. . .
    . . it is a few hours in July, . . It is possible the the pure water enthusiasts are overstating their case.


    Attachment 65655

    Problem, what problem?

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    The turbidity level of the river in July is the ESSN fault. They are catching all the kings, which means the power boats have to be on the river for more hours to catch their fish, which in turn is leading to the higher turbidity levels. Shut down ESSN and the problem will go away. DUH
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Default Those who really know and can make a difference are silenced...

    Taken from the second part of the two part series... Last few lines

    "Ruffner said he saw it as the state’s responsibility to be “above” the politically-charged arguments and focus on the science.

    “When they won’t talk about it and not present it and ask us not to talk about it, and not present it, that doesn’t help anybody,” he said."


    I think it is interesting that Mr. Ruffner pointed this comment at the DEC, when in fact it is State wide. Those State Employees who have vetted the DEC Data and reports are being hushed.

    When those who have the knowledge (data/research) to make changes have their jobs/careers held over their heads if they speak up, the fish and this river will be the losers in this debacle.

    I doubt that anyone with a clear mind can honestly say that the politics involved (insert special interests groups and their lobbyists) won't dictate the future or lack of a future for this river. This isn't just a DEC, BOF, or ADFG issue, the big player in this is the DNR. The DNR believes that if a decision is made to reduce the human impact on the Kenai or any other river, it will set a precedence (similar to case law) for the rest of the State's salmon rich rivers... IE the Bristol Bay area proposed project(s).

    In my opinion, the State of AK has been posturing as "concerned" about the renewable resources in this state. I say BS; follow the money. The fishing industries support local economies however it surely doesn't supply the State with enough money to run our bloated government; the non-renewable resources do. Less money, less government. The State of AK (Government) will keep itself afloat without doubt; there are a lot of "careers/livelihoods" at stake if they don't.

    The above statement/opinion is why the EPA may need to be brought in; the State refuses to abide by its own constitution (see Article VIII Section 4 "...replenishable resources belonging to the State shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle....") for the purpose of self (Government) sustainability. I am not saying that the EPA is the agency that needs to uphold our State Constitution, but our State Constitution protects the resources, as does the EPA when the State chooses not to.

    As the State continues to avoid making decisions/changes because its "constituents" (insert lobbyists and special interest groups) don't like the results of tax payer funded research; it then becomes the duty/responsibility of the next higher power which in this case is the EPA. Truly a sad situation for all of those who live in AK now and in the future when Federal Agencies need to come in and do what is obvious to so many.
    When all else fails...ask your old-man.


    AKArcher

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKArcher View Post
    . . State Employees who have vetted the DEC Data and reports are being hushed.

    When those who have the knowledge (data/research) to make changes have their jobs/careers held over their heads if they speak up, the fish and this river will be the losers in this debacle.

    I doubt that anyone with a clear mind can honestly say that the politics involved (insert special interests groups and their lobbyists) won't dictate the future or lack of a future for this river. This isn't just a DEC, BOF, or ADFG issue, the big player in this is the DNR. . .
    In my opinion, the State of AK has been posturing as "concerned" about the renewable resources in this state. I say BS; follow the money. . .

    The above statement/opinion is why the EPA may need to be brought in; . .

    As the State continues to avoid making decisions/changes because its "constituents" (insert lobbyists and special interest groups) don't like the results of tax payer funded research; it then becomes the duty/responsibility of the next higher power which in this case is the EPA. Truly a sad situation for all of those who live in AK now and in the future when Federal Agencies need to come in and do what is obvious to so many.


    Whether such is the case in the present instance or not, anyone who thinks state employees are not kept on a tight leash is, I assure you, greatly mistaken.

    Some years back, I was vocal in some issue or other where Division of Parks was involved. A senior Parks employee of my personal acquaintance, now retired, told me, "You are saying the things we're not allowed to say."

    The status quo is the status quo for a reason, and there will always be some who resist changing the status quo. In the current case, the tactics of resistance are the same as always: the data are never challenged, rather the data are pooh-poohed as irrelevant. So what if the Kenai suffers from excessive turbidity—other rivers do too, so what? Nobody drinks out of the Kenai—who cares? It only happens for a little while (we heard that one about hydrocarbon pollution on the Kenai)—just ignore it, it'll go away. Eco-freaks, and so on.

    Stuff happens . . follow the money . . follow the special interests . . consider, just for starters, the disruption to the status quo should the Kenai go to more drift-only days . .

    . . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Attachment 65655

    Problem, what problem?
    I bet over half the members here don't know who A.E.N. was. You're showing your age there Marcus. ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    I bet over half the members here don't know who A.E.N. was. You're showing your age there Marcus. ;-)
    Ha! Never thought of that, FamilyMan, but you're sure right.

    So for all the youngsters: Here, more or less and in the spirit of an earlier and and less vicious age, is what Alfred E. Neuman stood for in a joking kind of way:



    Attachment 65668

    +1 FamilyMan . . thanks for the reminder . . . I think . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tee Jay View Post
    So we get to "several hours in July..." as the crucial determinate. A lovely weasel word description. Was it two hours, or two thousand? And how many days did it cover?

    It would seem that we have already conceded it likely has no long-term deleterious effect on fish, does not affect drinking water that no one seems ro use, does not affect swimming, and have not addressed Killey River contributions.

    Based on the available information, color me skeptical.
    Exceeding standards


    The state's drinking water standard is 5 NTU above natural conditions, the secondary recreation standard is 10 NTU above and the Fish and Wildlife standard is 25 NTU above.


    During July, the river exceeded drinking water standards for more than 40 hours during all three years of the study. During the same period of time standards for recreation were exceeded for more than 25 hours and more than eight hours for fish and wildlife according to study data from River Mile 11.5, or Eagle Rock.

    Exceeding standards

    The state's drinking water standard is 5 NTU above natural conditions, the secondary recreation standard is 10 NTU above and the Fish and Wildlife standard is 25 NTU above.

    During July, the river exceeded drinking water standards for more than 40 hours during all three years of the study. During the same period of time standards for recreation were exceeded for more than 25 hours and more than eight hours for fish and wildlife according to study data from River Mile 11.5, or Eagle Rock.

    _________________________
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    Thanks, FnP. That is beginning to make some sense. The original article cited a couple of hours in July in each of the past 3 years

    It does raise a question, though. Exceeding natural conditions has a lot of potential for mischief. Is it a fixed number for any stream at all times of the year or does it vary by season or some other factor? There is a fair amount of variability in the Kenai, and most other streams, especially if the Killey River starts spewing mud.
    Terry

  15. #15

    Default Exceedances at RM 11.5

    The "natural condition" baseline is set at the 90 percentile, with a 95 percent confidence interval. That means that 10 percent of the time readings are above the "natural condition." The reference site is at RM 23, in a non-tidal area of the river just above the Soldotna Bridge, while the site selected to be measured is RM 11.5 at Eagle Rock, in a tidal influenced areaof the river.

    There are 31 days in July. 24 hours * 31 days = 744 hours in July.

    The fish and wildlife standard is the natural condition plus 25 NTUs, for more than ten percent of the time.

    The average hours of exceedances in July from 2008 - 2010 was 37.3 hours, as measured at RM 11.5 (Eagle Rock).

    37.3 hours / 744 hours yields an exceedance rate of five percent of the total hours in July. The exceedances are spikes, and transitory in nature.

    At RM 23, there is an average exceedance of the fish and wildlife standard of 10 hours, or 1.3 percent of the total time.

    So the exceedances at RM 11.5 are 3.7 percent of the time different than that of the reference site at RM 23, for fish and wildlife standards, in July.

    The study puts forth the hypothesis that the 3.7 percent of the time is related strictly to motor boat usage, but acknowledges that the tides may also influence turbidity readings at RM 11.5, but does not control for this potential variable in the methodology for data collection.

    So the 3.7 percent "exceedance" for fish and wildlife water quality standard in July at RM 11.5 is less than the 10 percent threshhold for listing due to concerns over fish and wildlife.

    For the recreational standard, the same process is used to calculate exceedances for the secondary recreational standard of natural condition plus 10 NTUs. The average exceedance for July of NC plus 10 NTU is 105 hours. The percentage time of exceedance is 105 hours hours / 744 hours in July, or 14 percent of the time. Again, this amount of time is more than the 10 percent standard for listing. However, at RM 23, the average hours of exceedance are 49 hours. 105 - 49 hours = 56 hours of exceedance at RM 11.5, as compared to the results at RM 23. The difference of 56 hours is 7.5 percent of the time, which is less than 10 percent of the time, if looking at strictly impacts theorized due to motor boat activity at RM 11.5.

    For the drinking water standard, at RM 23 the average time of exceedances is 60 hours per month, while at RM 11.5 it is 143 hours per month. This means the difference between the two sites for the NC plus 5 NTUs is 83 hours in July, which is 11 percent.

    Of the three standards, the standard that is exceeded more than ten percent of the time at RM 11.5 is the drinking water standard, when the exceedances of the natural conditions at RM 23 are factored in.

    There are three factors that impact turbidity levels at RM 11.5 in the tidal zone (in-river turbidity, motor boats, and tides) and two factors that impact turbidity levels in a non-tidal zone, at RM 23 (in-river turbidity, and motor boats). In the study, the thought is that motors boats do not contribute in any significant manner to the turbidity levels at RM23, due to low motor boat traffic.

    RM 11.5 is in a tidal zone, and has an influx of turbidity from waters from Cook Inlet, which have a higher level of baseline turbidity than the Kenai River, but this was not factored into or controlled for in the study design. There is more than ten years of water quality data from the Kenai Watershed Forum that indicates the tidal section of the Kenai River (RM 13 and lower) have higher natural conditions for turbidity than does a non-tidal section of the river, which is the reference point at RM 23, and that the turbidity levels increase as the proximity nears to the mouth of the river.

    So the "turbidity study" indicates that drinking water standards, using a reference point in the non-tidal area at RM 23, were violated at RM 11.5 slightly more than ten percent of the time when naturally occurring in-river turbidity is accounted for. The ten percent level is the trigger point for a potential impairment listing. However, using RM 23 does not control for any impacts on natural condition levels at RM 11.5 from the tides. Hence the issue is muddied by not properly controlling for the influence of the tides in the study. Turbidity measurements at RM 11.5 would be impacted at tide stages above 18 feet or higher. These tidal stages are regularly seen every month at RM 11.5, for probably more than half of the high tides in a tidal cycle.

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    Wow. Based on this the state should do what? None of this was in the article, including the FnP contribution. It still looks like a stand-off. There may be wake standards coming.
    Terry

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