Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Siskiyou County Water Users
347 N. Main Street, Yreka, CA
December 5, 2016
Mr. Paul Zedonis, Bureau of Reclamation Northern California Area Office, 16349 Shasta Dam Blvd., Shasta Lake, CA 96019
Dear Mr. Zedonis,
The Siskiyou Water Users Association representing a large number of citizens of Siskiyou County and ardent supporters of intelligent solutions to the Klamath River and its subsidiaries in relation to protecting and invigorating the fish populations submit the following comments in relation to the Lower Klamath Solution EIR EIS developed by the Bureau of Reclamation. I would respectively point out that we have now on several occasions reached out to the Bureau in regard to having a hearing on this proposal in Yreka. Your staff has haphazardly made efforts to contact but not produced any effort to ameliorate the issue.
Regarding Long Term Plan to Protect Adult Salmon in the Lower Klamath River (LTP)
The proposed action “to increase lower Klamath River flows to reduce the likelihood, and potentially reduce the severity, of any fish die-off in future years due to crowded holding conditions for pre-spawn adults, warm-water temperatures, and the presence of disease pathogens—which are likely the major factors contributing to adult mortalities”, for what is benignly presented in the LRP as a ‘preventative’ measure, in reality guarantees nothing more than the codified pre-emptory regulatory confiscation of preadjudicated water rights. Using conjectured hypothesis and implied assumptions cloaked in pseudoscientific terms, this ‘revision’ simply furthers the apparent current regulatory rewilding agenda and usurpation of resources regardless of cost effective environmental benefit.
This proposal once again ignores the unaccountable cascading chain of hardship and loss known resulting from its unilateral imposition, and even given the LRP extensive attempt at rationalization, it in no respect meets a reasonable or responsible level of scientific justification for the mandatory policy provisions sought. By this “Plan’s” own admission, there is little substantive data and no direct correlative certainty supporting LRP entailed assumptions arguably contradicted by a hundred years of available statistics.
Only upon any regionally proven and quantified correlation of significant benefit, and then only upon subsequent holistically inclusive cost-effective assessment, with inclusion and compensation for the water rights confiscations that will occur as a result, should ANY implementation of the LRP proposed policy embedded political objective be considered.
Background and History
Even though the endemic salmon conditions of the Lower Klamath have been documented as far back as 1851, and the salmon returns to the Upper Klamath main stem not only maintained, but INCREASED over the past hundred years, the regulatory premise and ‘response’ of the LTP relies entirely upon ONE year of salmon ‘die-off’. Citing the 2002 “unforeseen and unprecedented fish die-off (that) occurred during a two-week period in the lower Klamath River” (emphasis added), the LTP obviously skirts around the significant concurrent circumstances occurring at that time, a lack of ‘event’ data, other likely now known exacerbating or causative factors, and the overall salmon year-run relative impacts. Instead, from that one event the LRP proceeds to weave a rationalization of connection to the confiscation of future flows. Within 4 short paragraphs alone, the LRP (1) extrapolates a profound requirement of action based upon that ‘unprecedented’ event; (2) infers that the ‘unprecedented’ event is somehow now routinely expected; (3) concludes that 7 brief ‘flushes’ occurring under very different conditions and often for unrelated purpose over 14 years following 2002 were somehow preventive of a recurrence of that ‘unprecedented event’; (4) fails to include the chemical spill ‘event’ and the record run statistics which precluded significant ‘die-off’ harm to the fisheries, and (5) that the effective confiscation and future escalation of flows beyond historical levels never before producing that ‘unprecedented event’, will somehow ‘potentially’ prevent that ‘unprecedented event’ from ever occurring again. Not only can those assumptions and conclusions not meet the currently diminished agenda interpretation of precautionary scientific acceptance, they fail to even reach the simple level of relational logic.
Actual documented Klamath history, regional experience, and current studies challenging the simplistic and narrow ‘objectives’ have been presented multiple times in the past to the agencies involved. As that information is readily available upon general search, and has been dismissed or ignored entirely by those agencies at every turn, there is little benefit seen to be derived from repeating it here.
“To be viable, alternatives need to have the capability of meaningfully and substantially reducing the likelihood—and potentially reducing the severity—of any Ich epizootic event that could lead to an associated fish die-off.”
“Alternatives were developed to meet the Purpose and Need for the project, which is to reduce the likelihood, and potentially reduce the severity, of any Ich epizootic event that could lead to an associated fish die-off in future years. The need is based on the past extensive fish die-off in 2002.” (Emphasis added)
The LTP ‘alternatives’ immediately and arbitrarily present ‘current conditions’ as unacceptable. Without confirmatory data, guaranteed significant benefit, or accountability for implemented harm, both ‘alternatives’ assure the programmatic perpetual massive taking of resources at a critical time of year without fear of regulatory ascribed failure. Unaddressed are ‘present condition’ projections of significant need or presented evidence of unnatural or unrecoverable harm. It is not addressed because it cannot be reasonably provided using real world Klamath data. Chinook are not endangered and coho have been seen to demonstrate far less consequential impact, and both have been naturally exposed to the factors of concern since ‘time immemorial’. It is known that current late summer Lower Klamath flows are already far higher since and because of the artificial storage over the past century than frequently existed before. As a result, setting an arbitrary ‘minimum’ flow straining a balanced system supported by the very productivity it provides is an irresponsible path towards an intended ever-increasing ‘need’ to ‘potentially’ prevent indigenous disease until no other beneficial use remains. Those proposed ‘mandated’ requirements, which fail to consider any long term detrimental effects such actions could have upon the very species they claim to ‘protect’, such as ‘unnatural’ migration patterns, reduced genetic disease tolerance, reduced ‘nutrient provision’ of dead salmon in the affected region, and the potential for altered pattern induced diminished survival rates, speaks instead to the actual agenda rewilding intent of the LTP.
Given the above, there is no present scientific or economic justification demanding a ‘programmatic’ policy embedded confiscation of a vital resource currently serving multiple beneficial needs. Such an ‘event’ can produce far more environmental and economic harm than the ‘unprecedented’ event sought to avoid.
The use of a negative logic that concludes sustained augmented Klamath flows plus ancillary flushes are required, based upon 7 ‘pulses’ which did not result in a repeat of an ‘unprecedented’ event, stands no rational standard of reason. Even if that method were appropriate, such a logic would in fact produce the exact opposite conclusion. A hundred years of frequently far lower flows than currently sought failing to repeat an ‘unprecedented event’ clearly indicate such a disproportionate reaction is NOT warranted. Until such proof of benefit, lack of holistic environmental consequence, and accountability for confiscatory losses occur, it is scientifically, logically, and morally irresponsible to implement a proposed alternative action.
Submitted on behalf of the Siskiyou County Water Users:
Rex Cozzalio SCWUA Board and Scientific coordinator 347 North Main Street Yreka CA 96097
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