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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Letter from Mid-Basin citizens to be presented at CA Water Board meeting
10/25/06, sent to PacifiCorp
We are here representing the citizens of Siskiyou county and residents of Southern Oregon that have responded to an opinion poll we have circulated  over the past three months; the businesses, residents and property owners of Iron Gate Lake Estates, Copco Lake, the Klamath Basin. KRCE, R-Ranch, Klamath Ranch Resort, the PFUSA Grange, the Hornbrook and Greenhorn Granges and the SOSS.
We would like to state our side of the water quality issues of the Klamath River Basin, Iron Gate Lake and Copco Lake Reservoirs. As citizens of Siskiyou County we've asked the County Health Dept. for information on the Algae problems that have become a headline in our area over the past few years.  We  have read all the information and news articles connected to water quality issues, namely the Blue Green Algae problem that is so very present in the summer months of July and August in Siskiyou County as well as every other water body in the world.
The environmentalists and Native Americans feel the solution is removal of  Iron Gate, Copco 1 and 2 and the JC Boyle Dams all located on the Klamath River. Removal of theses Dams will not solve the algae issues nor will it change them.  The Klamath River contains high levels of Phosphorus which the algae thrives on. This is a natural occurrence starting with the artesian wells, springs and rivers that feed the Klamath river in Oregon and Upper Klamath Lake.  This is all documented facts, and have been studied by many groups.  Two of these groups are the Klamath Tribes and OSUKES ( Oregon State University, Klamath experiment station).
There has never been a fish kill from the algae nor has there been an illness or death recorded from exposure to the blue green algae in Siskiyou County or the State of California. The location and presence of the algae and toxins from the algae is very unpredictable, location and presence can vary by the minute.  There is no approved testing methods for toxin analysis, it takes approximately six weeks to get results after sampling a noted problem area and by then the area has now blown across the lake and is somewhere else.  Blue green algae in lakes used for recreation are a common occurrence throughout the world. There is very little research on human health effects from the algae and their toxins. Blue green algae in lakes used for recreation is a common occurrence through out the world. Documents currently do not accurately reflect the current state of science, i.e.: Human risk assessment cannot be performed due to insufficient data. There has been only a thirteen week study done on mice. On county and state levels much more scientific data must be taken on the effects of the algae and it's toxins with consideration given to the ramifications on property owners, business owners and communities that may be dependent on these recreational water bodies.
The power produced by the Hydroelectric Plants on the Klamath River is a clean, safe, non greenhouse-gas-generating energy.  The removal of these would be devastating to citizens and the State who benefit from power produced and recreation provided. The revenue loss alone would hurt every tax payer, home owner, business owner in Siskiyou county.
Copco Dam was built in 1917, 89 years ago, there is an eco-system thriving in our river, and lakes, do we just kill it?  This eco-system includes but is not limited to several species of fish, water fowl, herons, eagles, osprey, turtles as well as many species of mammals, deer, cougar, bear, and so on.
We believe there are answers and solutions to all the water quality issues and the survival of the salmon, but there needs to be much more information gathered and research done to come to a solution that can benefit all.  Removal of the Algae before it blooms is a less drastic solution than removal of the dams, the Bureau of Reclamation is now working on this very issue.
Let us all use good and sound science in the water quality issues before us.  Save our dams, lakes, salmon and our way of life in Siskiyou county.
Thank you.
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