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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held public meeting 11/14/06
notes by KBC 11/17/06

More than 150 community members attended the FERC public meeting at the Shilo Inn in Klamath Falls Tuesday to give input on relicensing the Klamath Hydroelectric Project.

Community members came out to comment on FERC relicensing of
Klamath River Dams--Toby Freeman of PacifiCorp listens from the side.   >
FERC manager John Mudre (2nd from Left in photo) explained the relicensing procedures which include input from government agencies, the public, biological opinions,
Environmental Impact Statements, drafts, protests, and water quality certificates.

A final series of  meetings open for public comments are taking place this month. Written comments are due Dec. 1, 2006.

Here is information regarding the FERC relicensing and links to the draft environmental impact statement: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/enviro/eis/09-25-06.asp

Send written comments to: Klamath Hydroelectric Project # P2082-027, Magalie Roman Salas, Secretary, 888 First Street NE, Washington, DC  20426. 

Most of the attendees were from the Klamath Tribes. They expressed that the power company when building the dams was supposed to install fish ladders which it did not do. This has eliminated salmon they believe thrived in the Upper Klamath Basin. They said that food commodities were not healthy, their health has suffered from the lack of salmon, their culture has suffered, and they pray the dams will be removed so the salmon will "come home." Young people spoke and some cried wanting salmon to swim to the basin. They mostly did not support trucking fish around the dams, and would rather have the dams removed than have fish ladders because it is the natural thing to do. They said the water quality used to be good and the dams ruin the water quality and cause toxic algae.

Phil Tupper from the Klamath Tribes said that the dams should come out, that they don't justify the small amount of power from that the four dams which serves 70,000 customers. He feels that cold water storage like Long Lake would help the river and the farmers.

Several Klamath Project irrigators spoke to the Commission.

James Ottoman (right) told how his Czech ancestors helped settle Malin in the Klamath Project in 1909, and they bought their land and helped pay for the Klamath Reclamation Project. He explained how Shasta View Irrigation District initially lost 50% of delivered water to evaporation and seepage, however they installed a pressure system completed in 1975 and has been an environmental example of water savings in the US and Canada. "The water saving pressure system used in  SVID is possible only because of the favorable rate of electrical power. Any unreasonable electric rate increase will put all users of Upper Klamath Basin waters in financial and environmental jeopardy."

Ottoman farmed for 60 years until Reclamation shut off his Project water in 2001. He was State Director of National Water Resources Asso, Oregon Governor's Policy Advisory Committee for DEQ, Gov's Policy Review Board, ADR Resolutions Committee, President OWRC, past president Klamath Water Users Asso, Klamath Basin Tri County Water Advisory Board, and director Shasta View Irrigation District.

Klamath Project irrigator John Crawford, (RIGHT) has been Tulelake Irrigation District director for 25 years.

He said being at the bottom of the gravity flow of the Lost River Watershed, most of our irrigation water is returned to the Klamath River. Clear Lake is the headwaters of the Klamath system. When LR water comes into the Project, it takes the place 12,000 acre feet of water released from Link River dam into the river as flow for fish. A lot of that water goes into irrigation system, taking place of water that would come from Klamath Lake. These flows benefit irrigators and fish alike. We operate and pay for pumping  D plant, pumping water into Klamath Basin wildlife refuge. That facility takes reasonably priced power.

Without affordable power, we'd have to recirculate the water into the system and not be able to use D Plant as extensively. It allows over 100,000 acre feet return flow to return into the Klamath River

The waterfowl and eagles utilize the refuges and farms; not having reasonably priced power will come at a cost to the wildlife.

It will cost salmon reintroduction to the Klamath Basin.

Klamath irrigators have put water saving sprinkler systems on their farms, but with high power prices we must return to flood irrigation and recirculate water throughout the basin.

Luther Horsley, Klamath Water Users Association, said Keno Dam was put in to time and regulate flows. Near Keno stretch of river, people on the river benefit from this artificially high water level.

He said if you look at a map of the Pacific Flyway, 90% of the birds stop here, and 50% of them eat on the private ground. We need to take care of our resources.

Scott Seus, 3rd generation Project irrigator and chair of power committee, employs 100 people dependant of affordable power.

Power company Copco said we were productive, feeding people and wildlife.

Klamath Compact established federal law, law of the land, for distribution and use of water in Klamath basin, and for other beneficial and economic distribution and uses of water with an affordable rate.

"The authors of the Klamath Compact understood the intricate relationship between the Klamath  River hydro project, irrigators of the Upper River Basin, and the interests that live above and below us in the watershed."

He said FERC negotiations with 28 representatives are trying to resolve the issues.  He asked FERC to allow this group designed by FERC to design their own fate.

Seus requests Keno Dam remain in the relicensing process. And he asked that Klamath Project irrigators be reimbursed for power that it takes the irrigators to provide water for power, fish and farms.

Bill Heiney, project irrigator and TID director, also asked for an affordable power rate.

Marshall Staunton, project irritator, is cochairman of Hatfield with Mark Stern, director of The Nature Conservancy in the Klamath Basin.

He explained that the Hatfield science team is focused on species recovery, habitat and restoration. They developed 5-year plan for restoration of the Klamath Basin and would be a good team to make Klamath River decisions.

It was brought up by a Project irrigator that 100 years ago the Klamath Basin was a large deep navigable lake. Link River often went dry, and most of the lake was in a closed basin with no way to reach Klamath River.

The Klamath Reclamation Project, built and paid for in full by Klamath irrigators, blasted a tunnel through Sheepy Ridge to send the water from the Basin through the tunnel, into the refuge and the Klamath River at the pumping expense of the irrigators. She explained that by providing free regulated water for clean hydropower took tens of thousands of dollars.  With a 1400% rate increase, the cost to irrigators to pump water from the basin would be millions, and farming would be greatly harmed in the Klamath Basin. Also harmed would be provisions for  regulated water for wildlife and fish and power.

The power company has had a partnership with the power company for years. When Reclamation built the Project, the power company was elated to get this regulated free water that allowed for producing power with low rates for ratepayers throughout the region.

She said she has been called a greedy irrigator from a Siskiyou County representative for wanting other ratepayers to "subsidize" Klamath irrigators, and said PacifiCorp told her that they are subsidizing us.

She explained how Klamath Lake, according to historical records and Dr. Lewis with the National Academy of Science, was always poor quality and no amount of restoration or anything at all will ever change the quality of the huge Klamath Lake. This was said in regarding the argument that dam removal will create good water quality for salmon to swim into the basin.

She said that Oregon trollers say dam removal is a political fix, however they believe that if they can make fish with their hatcheries they can again have good runs like they did before the federal government began managing the hatcheries. The feds only allow a small amount of hatchery fish in the river. They only allowed Oregon coastal commercial fishermen to fish in the dead zone this year. As the irrigators in 2001 endured suicides, bankruptcies and a decimated economy, so are the fishermen presently.

"Environmentalists" like PCFFA, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen, say they want Klamath irrigators to have a high power rate to get rid of the farmers and allow more water for fish. This, like 2001, would kill our land and wildlife and communities.

People along the dam reservoirs and miners are fearful of dam removal because it will destroy their communities and economies, and tons of sediment may destroy the river. She said that on the Columbia  River, there are eight dams and historic large runs of fish.

Rather than decimating some of the Klamath communities, she asked FERC for a power rate to compensate irrigators for their beneficial uses to power and fish, and recommended trucking fish instead of removing dams which provide power for 70,000 customers.

Here is information regarding the FERC relicensing and links to the draft environmental impact statement: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/enviro/eis/09-25-06.asp

Send written comments by December 1st to: Klamath Hydroelectric Project # P2082-027, Magalie Roman Salas, Secretary, 888 First Street NE, Washington, DC  20426. 

 

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