Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

PacifiCorp officials say it is too early to consider that change to the river
by Steve Kadel, Herald and News 12/19/07

   It’s too early to consider removing four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River as a way to rectify water allocations issues along the troubled watershed, PacifiCorp officials say.
   Removal of the four dams is a likely recommendation from a stakeholders group that has met for three years over ways to distribute water equitably. No one in the group conf irmed or denied dam removal, but a final report is expected soon.
   Toby Freeman of Pacifi-Corp said Tuesday that more scientific study is needed before the environmental effects and cost of dam removal are known.
   However, Karuk Tribe of California spokesman Craig Tucker said such scientific study would be required by the National Environmental Policy Act prior to dam removal, should the stakeholders group recommend that route. The tribe supports dam removal to re-establish salmon runs.
   Tucker said he believes PacifiCorp is describing “an environmental catastrophe scenario” to stall for time and preserve the status quo.
   Jon Hicks of the Bureau of Reclamation and Greg Addington of the Klamath Water Users Association, both members of the water settlement group, were unavailable for comment Tuesday.
   The Herald and News will follow up with them and/or other members of the settlement group in coming days.
   “Dam removal is being characterized as a silver bullet,” Freeman said, but he warned that removing dams without supporting scientific research would be dangerous.
   For example, Freeman said, the effects on fish and habitat of releasing massive amounts of sediment from behind the dams is unknown. That sediment — estimated at 20,000 cubic yards — is equal to 2 million 18-wheel dump trucks filled with mud, he said.
   Replacing lost power
   Freeman also emphasized the need to replace lost electrical power should the dams be dismantled. PacifiCorp’s customers should not have to pay that price, he said.
   Tucker said, however, that the true environmental damage occurs from toxic blue-green algae that collects behind the dams — a situation that would be alleviated by removal.
   Environmental review
   Tucker also said the dams wouldn’t be taken out until at least 2015. In the meantime, he said, the scientific studies that Freeman and others want would proceed under federal requirements.
   “We would have to do a full environmental review,” Tucker said. “There will be a lot of science that goes into that.”
   He added that the California Coastal Commission has taken core samples of the sediment and found no toxic substances. Also, Tucker said, greater amounts of sediment sliced off mountainsides and into the Klamath River during a 1990s mudslide with no adverse effects.
   “The river f lushed it out,” he said. “The river deals with these kinds of sediment loads.”
Researchers: More study needed

   Two University of California-Davis professors, members of the 2004 National Research Council committee that evaluated fish issues on the Klamath River, share PacifiCorp’s Toby Freeman’s contention that more study is needed before dams are removed on the Klamath River.
   In a letter last month to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Resources Agency, they emphasized that dam removal must be considered within “an appropriate scientif ic framework.” They made that statement while declar ing themselves proponents of removing the dams, at least in principle.
   Water quality issues are particularly critical, they said.
   “ No entity, including PacifiCorp, federal and state agencies, and st a keholder i nt erest g roups, has provided s u f f i c i e nt m o d e l i n g and analysis to demonstrate the water quality impacts associated with removal of the dams,” they wrote. “(And) we have seen nothing that would indicate that a dramatic increase in salmon and steelhead populations will occur following removal of the dams.
   “We do think a more complete scientific analysis on the effects of dam removal on fish and fisheries is warranted.”


Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2007, All Rights Reserved