Klamath water report questioned by
SISKIYOU COUNTY - A state
report released Friday cites a Klamath River flow
study that was thrown out by a federal judge and
dismissed by the National Academy of Sciences last
An independent fisheries
biologist and farmers are questioning the
inclusion of the flow study.
The report, issued by the California Department of
Fish and Game, concludes that river flows are "the
only factor and tool available in the Klamath
Basin" to prevent the combination of conditions
that led to the deaths of an estimated 34,000
salmon in the lower Klamath River in September
The 183-page DFG report compares the river flows
in 2002 to those recommended by Dr. Thomas Hardy
in a study released in draft form in 2001. In
fact, the draft Hardy Phase II Flow study is cited
That study was tossed out
by federal Judge Saundra Armstrong in a lawsuit
brought against the Bureau of Reclamation as a
result of the fish die off. Armstrong agreed with
defense attorneys that the Hardy report could not
be considered evidence since it was clearly a
Armstrong also cited testimony offered by
fisheries biologist Dave Vogel that the report was
seriously flawed in several ways, including
grouping Chinook and coho salmon habitats
together, river surveys that broke from
established scientific protocol by choosing points
for their ease of access, and choosing a span of
time - 1905 through 1915 - that records show the
upper Basin experienced abnormally high
precipitation and the Lost River slough had been
diked by farmers in an attempt to keep Tule Lake
from flooding the town of Malin.
For those reasons and others, the National Review
Council, called by the National Academy of
Sciences in 2002 to assess the science behind the
cutback of water to the Klamath Project in 2001,
dismissed the Hardy report as unsubstantiated.
Vogel, who spent 14 years with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service before opening a private firm in
Red Bluff 13 years ago, said the use of the Hardy
study by DFG was "surprising."
"They are getting their flows from Hardy. Right up
front that shows problems with their report,"
Vogel said. "It is clear this report is a
"I don't think we relied on Hardy," said Steve
Turek, a senior environmental scientist in DFG's
regional headquarters in Redding. "We used
information in it, but the reason we used it is
right now it is the best information we have at
Vogel's problems with DFG's report don't end with
the reliance on Hardy.
Vogel, who happened to be conducting his own
temperature study in the river below Iron Gate Dam
when the fish began dying, found that DFG's
preliminary report on the fish die-off misread the
Terwer temperature gauge at river mile six by four
That led DFG to conclude that water temperature
was not a factor in the fish die off yet, when
correctly read, Terwer showed a rise in
temperature in the river less than 24 hours before
fish began dying.
In DFG's final report, Vogel notes they "avoid"
that problem by ignoring the Terwer gauge.
"They are highly selective in what information
they use," Vogel said. "They use gauges above and
below Terwer, distorting the analysis and then
without supporting data they move from speculation
Because the Klamath River is typically warm in
September the DFG report states that, although
water temperature was "stressful" for salmon, it
also could be eased by increasing the flows over
Iron Gate Dam.
Yet the report says that the flows would have to
be higher than 1,900 cfs to have any significant
effect on water temperatures.
In fact, Turek said the flows needed to be higher
"Flows should not drop below 2,200 cfs," Turek
said. "Of course, that could be a combination of
Trinity and Klamath water."
Dan Keppen, executive director of the Klamath
Water Users Association said he hoped the release
of the report wouldn't damage ongoing work to find
solutions in the Basin.
"We remain hopeful we can address these issues on
a watershed-wide basis," Keppen said. "We need to
find out if the field biologists are on the same
page with Sacramento."