Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
California Congressman Doug
LaMalfa townhall in Tulelake
9/12/15 by KBC News - Notes
Congressman Doug LaMalfa conducted a townhall meeting during the Tulelake Butte Valley Fair on September 12th to talk about current legislative news, and listen to the community air their questions and views. Most of the discussion focused on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement that, if passed in Congress, downsizes agriculture, hopes to obtain a better power rate for Klamath irrigators which increased over 2000% in the past 10 years, removes fish hatcheries that produce millions of salmon, and destroys the four Klamath River dams which provide hydro power for 70,000 households.
The first community input was by Bob Gasser from Basin Fertilizer Company. He stressed how the KBRA agreement had nothing to do with science, however he asked LaMalfa to support the agreements because they offered hope to farmers that, if they agreed to dam removal, they might get more water to irrigate.
LaMalfa said he was a farmer too and represents people from an entire area in Northern California, not just the Klamath Basin. He said he knows some people do not care about the dams, but the science and common sense are not there to remove them. Millions of cubic yards of silt will pour down the river from behind the dams. The "agreements' destroy the Iron Gate Hatchery which produces millions of fish because the environmental groups and some government agencies don't want to count those fish because they want us to believe hatchery fish are not "real" fish. There is no science behind the agenda, but just political power. Political people took things non factual and jammed it down peoples throats. Farmers here were forced into this settlement because they were led to believe they'll be able to keep farming.
LaMalfa said the environmentalists came here with an agenda, a false premise, and "I don't believe it will stop there." They won't consider trap and haul and won't count hatchery fish. PacifiCorp, owner of the Klamath hydroelectric dams, is cutting their losses and inflicting their losses on the ratepayers.
"How can I support something that's morally wrong?" LaMalfa said.
Dan Keppen is a former employee of the Bureau of Reclamation, Klamath Water Users Association, and presently is executive director of Family Farm Alliance, and employed by Klamath Water and Power Association (a part of the KBRA), as a consultant. Family Farm Alliance now supports this dam-removal agreement. Keppen told LaMalfa that the Klamath is a "unique situation"; if the dams come out, it's better for fish and there is a guaranteed water supply. He did not say why removing dams, thus lowering the Klamath River water flows, would be good for fish, especially with the millions of tons of toxic sediment that would cover all the fish habitat to the ocean. He also said if the dams come out, there is a guaranteed water supply. He did not say how much water is guaranteed because, according to the KBRA document and the KWAPA engineer at a public meeting, the KBRA water certainty means that every spring, the irrigators will be told how much water they will be allowed to use the coming season.
LaMalfa said how our country is turning away from planned parenthood; he said we are losing it as a country. He was teary as he said we can't give up. We must take a stand and "you must make the government come through for you. Look at what we're doing to our vets." They fight with their hands tied behind their backs, come home and are treated badly.
Scott Seus told LaMalfa he wants him to support the KBRA. Seus had his young son with him, and said he wants there to be farming so his son can farm someday.
Not mentioned was that the KBRA expires for the farmers in 50 years. The dams and hatcheries and farmers' water rights would be permanently destroyed, the Klamath Tribes would permanently be given thousands of acres of land to create a sovereign nation since they 2ce sold their former reservation, however any benefit that the farmers may receive would expire.
Some ranchers from Siskiyou County, Siskiyou County Water Users Association, came and explained that they had worked with Klamath County irrigators to form a Bi State Alliance, working together to form solutions which they have shared with KWUA in the past. Keppen has previously ridiculed their efforts in the local media. Ranchers Jerry and Donna Bacagalupi expressed that they support an agreement that they can be part of, however the KBRA does not allow their participation. Since the Obama Administration has stated that they want the dams out, along with the environmentalists and Klamath River tribes and government agencies, support of dam removal is mandated for participants. If the dams are removed, their ranches will be obliterated near the river along with the Siskiyou County economy. If any true stakeholder does not support Klamath dam removal, they are not allowed to be part of the "agreement" negotiations.
The Klamath Tribes have made it clear that if the KBRA does not get approved (where they would be given land and millions of dollars,) they will shut down farming in the Klamath Project. Already, in the Upper Klamath Basin, the "agreements" mandated that they downsize another 30,000 acre feet of water. They have already been forced to sell their land and water rights to government agencies and environmental groups, 100,000 acres of land. So in the Upper Basin agreement, most of those opposing the agreements now support them because they have sold out their land with the threat of otherwise losing their water. This year Oregon Water Resource Department has shut down dozens of wells with no proof that these wells were effecting nearby springs. The Klamath Project made a call on off-Project water because the Bureau of Reclamation thought the Project might run short. So off project irrigators are going broke.
Three elected officials were in the audience: Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett, Oregon Representative Gail Whitsett, and Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams. All three were elected and re-elected largely because they represent their constituents' opposition to the Klamath agreements.
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