Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Water pact receives backlash,
Stakeholders decry county letter on dam removal
  by LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 11/18/14

All of the former Commissioners/KBRA supporters were replaced by opponents of the controversial KBRA/dam removal agreement.

VOTE HERE: The Herald again is doing an online vote on whether you agree with the commissioners opposition. It’s simple to just go to the H&N webpage and vote. Please share with your email list of supporters of Klamath River Basin resource users. http://www.heraldandnews.com/breaking/do-you-agree-with-the-klamath-county-commission-s-opposition/poll_280eff04-6e9e-11e4-93b3-4f7a6766aeef.html
The following article does not mention that the KBRA / dam removal agreement downsizes agriculture, puts a cap (not a promise) of how much water irrigators are allowed to use, even on a wet year, it changed the language from “water certainty” for irrigators to a “predictable” supply of water. When asked at a meeting what that meant, the irrigators were told that it means every spring on a certain day, they will be told how much water they will be allowed to use on their crop. Irrigators were told that federal power rate advertised in the KBRA could be well above the current tariff rate. And the KBRA promises to permanently retire land and water rights. The article also does not mention that one of the architects of the Klamath Dam Removal portion of the KBRA, Craig Tucker, has stated that as soon as these dams are out, he will be first in line to get Keno Dam removed; Keno dam allows the Klamath Reclamation Project to receive irrigation water. Tucker, trained by Greencorp as a community organizer, is the current Karuk Tribe spokesman and voting “stakeholder” in the secret meetings of the KBRA.

Regarding the following article’s comments by Tracy Liskey, in May 2013, Gail Whitsett, KBRA opponent, won the election as Oregon State Representative District 56. Tracy Liskey, proponent of the KBRA, lost the election. On November 4th, 2014, Gail ran unopposed and won the endorsement of Democrats, Republicans and Independents with 97.36% of the votes cast. Senator Doug Whitsett, KBRA opponent, overwhelmingly wins every election because he represents the majority of his constituents. Here is one of his speeches on the stance of the elected county officials of Siskiyou and Klamath Counties http://www.klamathbasincrisis.org/whitsett/speech/KFLSwhitsettKlamathCommissionersmeetSisksups051614.htm Three of the hydro dams to be destroyed are in Siskiyou County.
Here is another: Senator Doug Whitsett speech regarding the KBRA and Klamath dam destruction at Yreka's public listening session put on by Department of Interior on 10/20/11. "The Draft Environmental Impact Statement does not appear to mitigate that 20 million cubic yards of sediment. The Department apparently proposes to simply blow the dams and let nature take its course, washing all that sediment downriver. They appear to consider this option as a “grand experiment” to see what actually happens. That amount of sediment is equivalent to about 2 million ten yard dump truck loads of silt, sediment and organic muck. To put that amount into perspective, lined up head to tail, 2 million dump truck loads of river muck would stretch about 12,500 miles…..about half way around the planet.




    Klamath County commissioners need to choose between supporting antiquated dams or irrigated agriculture, several water agreement stakeholders said Monday.

  Last week, in response to the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act   (SB 2379) passing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, commissioners Tom Mallams, Jim Bellet and Dennis Linthicum vowed to draft a letter opposing the bill.  

  Several Basin residents, organizations and agencies have spent years developing SB 2379. It is an inclusive piece of federal legislation that attempts to establish reliable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators. The pact also focuses on providing an economic package for the Klamath Tribes, restoring aquatic and riparian habitat in tributaries of Upper Klamath Lake and removing four Klamath River dams owned by PacifiCorp.

  Dam removal controversy

  The commissioners do not support dam removal and further argue that if the dams are removed, PacifiCorp should remove them without government intervention.

  According to off-project irrigator Matt Walter, the commissioners have to choose between supporting privately owned dams that produce little electricity and limited income for the county or supporting an ag community that generates more than $300 million annually.

  “We need leaders, and we need to go forward,” Klamath Project farmer Tracey Liskey said. “If you’re not going to lead, get the hell out of the way.”

  According to PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely, without an inclusive piece of legislation that supports dam removal, stakeholders don’t have a settlement. Without a settlement, PacifiCorp will be forced to relicense and construct fish ladders at the four dams, which would cost more than removing the dams under the terms of the settlement.

  “The cost of fish ladders at all four of the dams alone, which is required if the dams are kept, is estimated to be $300 million, and total capital costs to comply with licensing terms are likely to exceed $400 million. The cost for dam removal under the settlement for PacifiCorp customers is capped at $200 million,” Gravely wrote in an email.

  Dam removal is the most feasible and cost effective way to provide fish passage for salmon and steelhead, said Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry. The Tribes are party to the agreement as well and hold the primary water rights in the Basin.

  ‘Irresponsible and naive’

  Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, called the commissioners’ actions and comments “irresponsible and naive.” He said it shows that the commissioners are completely out of touch.  

  Walter pointed to the progress stakeholders have made in the past year, including bringing on new pact supporters, such as off-project irrigators, who have signed on in favor of the legislation.

  Gentry also noted the growing Basin-wide support for the agreements, especially since the Tribes reached a settlement agreement with off-project water users.

  “It’s disappointing that the dam removal seems to be the most significant point of contention by the commissioners,” Gentry said.

  Walter believes the commissioners should reach out to the public for direction rather than espousing policy based on their personal opinions. The commissioners claim they are representing the interests of the county residents.

  “The legislation has changed; the circumstances have changed; the stakes have changed and the public perception has changed, yet (the commissioners) continue to ignore the facts and try and wish this all away. None of it is going away,” Addington said. “This isn’t about dams — this is about stable communities and a sound economy. It’s about a predictable supply of water in the ditches.”

  Widespread effects

  Warren Haught, president of the Klamath Basin Improvement District, said the Klamath Project’s future is in jeopardy if the settlements don’t pass. A letter drafted by his district’s attorney to Rep.   Greg Walden, R-Ore., intends to neutralize the commissioners’ message by explaining the settlement’s benefits. Haught said a template letter has been given to several districts’ board members and irrigators to sign and send to Walden.

  “Walden needs to understand it’s important to everybody,” Haught said.

  Walden, who represents Oregon’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, has stated that he plans to support the water settlement in Congress, but he has reservations about removing the four Klamath dams.

  “We know the agreements can help secure our water. The agreements include a settlement between the Klamath Tribes and on-project farms that is already working … The on-project settlement and the recent upper Basin agreement will collapse if Congress does not act soon. The situation is urgent,” the letter states.

  Crucial timeframe

  Walter said if the legislation receives heavy opposition and gets drawn out for two more years, it will become more difficult to pass. Dam removal is a major component and several stakeholders won’t accept anything less, he added.

  “The time for this to happen is now,” Walter said.  

  Addington said options for the region’s family farms and ranches are unpleasant if the settlement package fails to pass. It’s likely some key parties may withdraw from the agreements and start looking at other options.

  “Most of those options are going to involve significant risks and costs for the irrigation community,” Addington said.

  PacifiCorp spokesman Gravely pointed out that the federal government has advocated a settlement approach to Klamath Basin water issues under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Dam removal has always been a central component, he noted.

  “The federal government is a signatory to the agreements and has a major role in carrying out all aspects of the settlement,” Gravely said. “The legislation allows the negotiated settlement, and the policy preferences of the federal government under the last two presidents and the states of Oregon and California, to happen in a way that protects PacifiCorp’s customers.

  “If the federal government doesn’t hold up its end of the settlement, the settlement doesn’t happen, and we don’t believe that leads to a better outcome for anyone involved in these issues.”

  The commissioners plan to approve their letter in a public meeting this week; however, the commissioners will be in Eugene most of the week for the Association of Oregon Counties annual conference, and the meeting may be held remotely.

  “The fact that they are taking public comment on such a significant issue by cell phone from a far away place is absurd; it’s just a joke,” Addington said.  

  ljarrell@heraldandnews.com  ; @LMJatHandN Information from stories by Herald and News reporter Samantha Tipler was used in this story.  



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Sunday November 23, 2014 09:42 PM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2014, All Rights Reserved