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More water needs to be allocated for agriculture

by Brandon Criss, Siskiyou County Supervisor District 1, in the Herald and News 12/2/14

     Klamath River hydropower dams are not “antiquated.” Two of those dams don’t even qualify for Social Security.

   Eighty percent of Siskiyou County and 77 percent of the Tulelake basin voted no on dam removal. When dams are a Klamath County campaign issue, pro-dam candidates have consistently won.

   It’s been recognized part of the reason for averting a fish kill this year was because water stored behind those dams was timely released to help meet minimum flows for migrating salmon and flush disease out of the lower Klamath River that caused the 2002 fish kill.

   As a benefit to basin agriculture, the Bureau of Reclamation’s Aug. 8 press release stated that the water released from behind the lower dams would “assist Reclamation by extending the Klamath Project’s available water supplies from Upper Klamath Lake to help close the irrigation season.”

   With the dams in place, we are seeing record runs of Klamath River salmon. Tearing out existing hydropower dams that have proven benefits for fish, Basin agriculture, and this past summer’s firefighting efforts, is no solution.

   The answer you get on whether dam removal agreements, if enacted by Congress, would guarantee water for Basin agriculture depends on who is advocating the agreements.

   The Karuk Tribe’s negotiator for the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement told a crowd, “What’s capped in this agreement is agricultural water use,” saying that there are no guarantees of water for farms in the agreement (Eureka, Times-Standard July 15, 2010).

   There are obviously different interpretations between KBRA signatories over what the flawed agreements truly mean.

   Actual scientific studies prove one of the best years for suckers occurred in 1991, when lake levels were lower than average. Inflating the lake level is actually harming suckers.

   We need to release more water for agriculture, which studies have proven reduces phosphorous loading before it is pumped back into the river for migrating salmon.  




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