Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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PacifiCorp, which serves 1.6 million customers in Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, is seeking a new federal license to operate a series of dams on the Klamath River in Oregon and California.
Failing returns of wild fall chinook on the Klamath have led to the near-shutdown of 700 miles of California and Oregon coastline to commercial salmon fishing.
"PacifiCorp is concerned about native fish populations in the Klamath River Basin," Bill Fehrman, PacifiCorp Energy president, said in a statement from Portland. "However, the company also is a regulated utility whose business is to safely and reliably generate and deliver electric power to its customers at a reasonable cost."
PacifiCorp, owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings of Des Moines, Iowa, offered no estimate of the cost of a trap-and-haul system. It said it wanted to use a "science-based" approach and work with interest groups that include Indian tribes, farmers, salmon fishermen and conservation groups to work out details.
"Our proposal doesn't envision fish ladders and screens at our dams," PacifiCorp spokesman Dave Kvamme said. "However, through the settlement process, we are open to a range of outcomes. As fish ladders and screens make sense, we would support their construction."
Changes to federal energy law last year gave utilities such as PacifiCorp the power to appeal the agencies' prescriptions for fish and propose cheaper alternatives.
"PacifiCorps Klamath dams are poor producers of electricity, provide little flood control and do not divert water for agriculture or drinking," said Leaf Hillman, vice chairman of the Karuk tribe in Orleans, Calif. "All they do well is kill fish and breed toxic blue-green algae. They must be removed."
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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