Opposition to dam removal
Input given during meeting on Klamath
Nearly everyone who spoke at a Tuesday California Water Board
meeting in Yreka said he or she is against removing four dams
from the Klamath River.
The Yreka meeting was the last in a series of four meetings held
by the board to provide a forum for the public to air their
feelings about how the Klamath River is managed and whether or
not the dams — owned PacifiCorp, the parent company of Pacific
Power — should be certified by the Clean Water Act and allowed
by federal regulation to continue operating for another 50
The other scoping meetings were held in Sacramento, Arcata and
More than 100 people attended the Yreka meeting.
According to Parker Thayler, a California Water Board
environmental scientist, comments provided at the meeting, and
during the current open public comment period, will be used to
inform the State Water Board’s actions on the Klamath
Hydroelectric Project. After the comment period closes, the
board will review information submitted by the public and other
sources to draft an environmental impact report. Once the draft
is released, another public comment period will open.
According to Thayler, the state will then consider all comments
received and issue a final environmental impact report and take
an action on the project’s recertification.
Siskiyou County Supervisor Grace Bennett kicked off the meeting,
saying that many people mistakenly believe that if the Klamath
River dams are removed, clean, clear, cold water will suddenly
“This is not the case. The water that comes from Oregon to
California is a problem. This water is a source of much
pollution. Upper Klamath Lake is shallow, warm in the summer,
and has many nutrients — phosphorous and organic matter — in
it,” she said.
Rex Cozzalio said four generations of his family have lived
directly below where Iron Gate Dam now sits. The dam is
northeast of Yreka.
“I have personally seen the overwhelming benefits those
facilities have provided to our river reach,” Cozzalio said.
Richard Gierak noted that the Klamath River is designated as a
recreational river within the National Wild & Scenic Rivers
System. Gierak said he believes destruction of Iron Gate Dam, or
any other Klamath dams, would change the river extensively,
directly violating of the federal scenic rivers act.
Thomas Joseph said if the dams can’t comply with federal or
state regulation, they need to be removed from the river.
“It’s simple and it’s easy. (The dams) are outdated, they need
to be redone or they need to be taken down,” Joseph said.
Robert Davis after he moved to the Yreka area more than 30 years
ago he asked longtime residents how Iron Gate Dam was built.
'Dropped to a trickle' “When I asked how they built the
pilings for the dam, they laughed because before the dams, the
river dropped to a trickle you could step over,” Davis said.
John Livingston, of Redding, asked the board to set measurable
goals for fish management.
“I would encourage the analysis to try to develop some
mitigation measures or some parameters that are measurable,
instead of everyone saying it worked or it didn’t work,”
Siskiyou County Supervisor Brandon Criss, noted that water from
Copco Lake was used to save homes in 2001, when a fire broke out
near the lake.
“Do not take this fire protection tool the dams provide,” he
$10 billion bond
Mark Baird, vice chair of Scott Valley Protect our Water, said
his suggestion is for the parties responsible for dam removal is
to establish a $10 billion bond “so the lives and property
(ruined) with the removal of these dams can be paid for after
“If you’re not going to pay for it, that’s not an experiment we
want to come to the conclusion of,” Baird said.
Konrad Fisher, executive director of Klamath Riverkeeper, said
he’ll argue that most of the opposition to dam removal is rooted
in ideology, not science.
“I live on the Klamath River, and I can assure you that the
Clean Water Act beneficial uses are not being protected right
now, and have not been protected in recent years,” Fisher said.
Sarah Schaefer, of Yreka, said she supports removing all four
“I don’t see anybody getting rich off these issues. I’ve never
heard anybody say ‘I want the dams to come out because I want to
get rich,’ ” Schaefer said.
Comments must be submitted before 5
p.m., Jan. 29.
Submit written comments to:
California State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
Water Quality Certification Program
Attention: Parker Thaler
P.O. Box 2000
Sacramento, CA, 95812-2000
Comment by phone: 916-341-5321
Comment by fax: 916-341-5400
Comment by email: email@example.com
Information about the Klamath Hydroelectric Project
certification process is posted on the State Water Board’s
Klamath Hydroelectric Project webpage:
The Klamath Hydroelectric Project
starts in Klamath County and runs through Siskiyou County.
According to California Water Board scoping documents, the
California portion of the project includes three dams: Iron
Gate, Copco 1 and Copco 2, and a small hydroelectric
facility on Fall Creek, a tributary to the Klamath River.
The Oregon portion includes the J.C. Boyle and Keno dams,
and two power generation facilities on the Link River.
The project has a capacity of 169 megawatts, which is less
than 2 percent of PacifiCorp’s total power output, documents
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which
issues licenses for construction of new hydropower projects
and continued operation of existing projects, is the federal
agency with jurisdiction over hydropower licensing. FERC
licenses are issued for a term of 30 to 50 years.
PacifiCorp’s Klamath license expired in 2006.
Since then, PacifiCorp has operated the Klamath
Hydroelectric Project under annual licenses.To continue
operating the project, PacifiCorp needs a new license from
FERC, documents said.
The California State Water Board certification process is
occurring because the Clean Water Act requires, as part of
the FERC relicensing process, applicants to prove discharge
from a project will be in compliance with state water
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