Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Culprit behind salmon kills not dams, but parasites; Answers to irrigation, environmental issues exist — just not in the form of dam removal
There’s a new “Agreement in Principle” issued by the Klamath Basin Task Force in one more attempt to address unresolved water issues. However, we’ve been told since 2008 that great support existed. There was a big signing ceremony at the Oregon State Capitol in 2010 with so-called momentum. Dam removal is the dead weight that keeps sinking these agreements. On June 19, 2008, legal counsel for Klamath County (later appointed a judge by Governor Kulongoski) told the Klamath Commissioners, “The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement is a dam removal agreement whose signers agree to support and advocate for dam removal. While this point is obvious, I raise it because I have heard people express general support for the agreement but not for dam removal. If you do not support dam removal, this is the wrong agreement to sign. I see no way around this basic point.”
In the April 21, 2013, Herald and News, Congressman Greg Walden thoughtfully explained why KBRA legislation is stalling, “There’s thinking in Congress that KBRA is a precursor to dam removal,” he said. So those who have dams in their jurisdiction, such as the Snake River dam in Washington, are leery about funding KBRA …”At a Sept. 26, 2012, Herald and News roundtable, Walden explained, “But either you keep running into the same wall, or you find a way around it. When three-quarters of the population says no to dam removal, that’s a problem you can’t skip over.”
The voters know the dams are important with their flood protection, homeowner values, cheap electricity production equal to 70,000 homes and a fish hatchery reliant upon Iron-Gate Dam for cold water with production goals of 5,100,000 smolts and 1,175,000 yearlings.The major culprit killing salmon isn’t the dams; it’s parasites such as C. Shasta, which infects salmonid fish.
From old-timers, we hear stories of being able to walk across the Klamath River and hardly getting one’s feet wet during summer. Now with government mandated high flows being sent down the Klamath River, including former “Tulelake” water, being diverted from farms and the refuge during the summer, we don’t see that natural low flow.One way to improve salmon numbers is by returning a more natural flow, which allows the Klamath River edges to dry out and solarize the habitats for these disease vectors in between salmon runs as nature did in the past.
This diversion of water back to the refuge and Agriculture for a short period will benefit salmon and the Klamath Basin.There’s also a fallacy that the salmon can’t be trapped and trucked around all the dams. It’s exactly what the federal government has planned for Shasta Dam.
In regards to the sucker fish, a Klamath Water Users’ Association’s (KWUA) scientist told Congress back in 2001:“It is evident the sucker populations do not experience a population-limiting condition from lower lake elevations as incorrectly postulated by the USFWS. In fact, one of the strongest year classes of suckers occurred during a drought year in 1991 when lake levels were lower than average. … This measure of artificially maintaining higher-than-historical lake elevations is likely to be detrimental, not beneficial, for sucker populations.”
Eleven years later, The Herald and News ran the article “Facing Extinction:”“ ‘The data we have shows a pretty continuous decline of the number of adults in the past decade,” said Josh Rasmussen, a fish biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The number of Lost River suckers in Upper Klamath Lake is just 50 percent of what it was 10 years ago. For shortnose sucker, it is only 40 percent,’ Rasmussen said. (Aug. 5, 2012).
This proves the KWUA scientist was right.Also, practically all of the KBRA’s strengths depend on who’s advocating it. Craig Tucker, of the Karuk Tribe “defended the KBRA, saying that there are no guarantees of water for farms in the agreement; only a cap on how much can be diverted. ‘What’s capped in this agreement is agricultural water use,’ Tucker said.” (The Times-Standard July 15, 2010)
Most people figured out the “Klamath Dams Scam” doesn’t guarantee water for Klamath Basin Agriculture. The solutions exist. We just need to get off the dead-end road of dam removal.
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Page Updated: Thursday January 16, 2014 02:14 AM Pacific
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