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Perspectives on Klamath River dam removal

  •  for Herald and News Rex Cozzalio is one of 4 generations at the same Klamath location directly below Iron Gate Dam, before and after.

Mr. Jason A. Atkinson’s guest commentary (printed in the Sunday, Nov. 3 edition of the Herald and News) was consistent with what we have experienced from him over the years. Willing to do or say anything to satisfy personal agenda, his “bipartisan” passion for Klamath rewilding and his “blueprint” for precedent imposition at any cost greatly exceeds his investment in understanding or concern for consequence. A few responses in the space allowed:

■ “Dams do nothing’ for irrigators” – Copco and Iron Gate already provide agricultural storage benefits directly to the Upper Basin in the form of demanded “pulse flows,” repeatedly using stored water to fulfill those mandates. Based on recent failed experiments, even special interest biologists now declare they will likely increase demanded pulses after dams’ destruction. At that point, all pulse waters will be taken directly from Upper Basin agricultural allocations. In addition, Siskiyou County’s water right under the Klamath Compact to 60,000 acre feet of potential irrigation water is integral to a proposed action which would significantly improve Klamath downstream water quality and enhance both agriculture and Shasta River fisheries benefit, options which disappear with storage destruction.

■ “Toxic algae … fostered in shallow reservoirs” — George Gibbs documented Klamath originated green water, diseased and dying salmon, stinking conditions, and frequently blocked estuary stated by Tribes as typical on the lower river before settler impacts. The deep water lakes currently provide the only known significant reduction of Upper Basin water naturally occurring high nutrient levels, effectively delaying and sequestering nutrients from delivery downstream during the most vulnerable time of year, and retaining over 80% of trapped and generated algae eliminated through senescence, gasification, and precipitation. Current data has shown higher microcystis outbreaks 140 miles downstream than at the foot of Iron Gate. Recent research suggests greater microcystin intercellular toxin production instream, and a much greater risk to the food chain and public from ingestion of instream cellular microcystin than from contact with microcystin dissolved in the water column. They also now know the only natural environment in which microcystin toxin breaks down is in deep water lakes, the only two being those targeted for destruction. Special interest’s own “modeling” biologists now acknowledge instream algae may significantly worsen after destruction due to increased nutrient laden water delivered downstream at the worst time of greatest potential harm.


■ “Deadly C. Shasta flourishes from dams-created conditions” – Except it doesn’t. Sentinel fish studies show massive polychaete densities at the Williamson and Keno resulting in the highest exposed kill rates in the entire Klamath, without the most salmon deadly genotype of C. Shasta yet there, being blocked by the dams. There is consistently less infection rates at Iron Gate than downstream, with some highest occurring 140 miles below. Artificial “flushing” experiments dumping more water than ever known natural prove “confounding” results that destroying dams will NOT ‘fix’. One infected salmon forced into Upper Basin unconducive habitat releasing several billion myxospores will infect existing polychaete, likely compounding disease from there to the ocean, demanding greater confiscation of stored agricultural waters.

■ Dams block “hundreds of miles of habitat” – Except they don’t. Recent studies support historical documentation and local knowledge that anadromous salmon never ascended in numbers above Keno for at least 8,000 years.

■ “Negligible power” from dams – is enough for 70,000 homes, the cheapest power produced, is integral to regional infrastructure security/reliability, are paid for, exceptionally well built, certified safe, and now witnessed increasingly uncertain outside power involves more expensive fossil fuels.

■ “PacifiCorp has private right to take down dams” – Not what he said before PacifiCorp was extorted and bribed into accepting known resource and environmental devastation. Notwithstanding, they have a right, but what about property owner rights on the lakes and downstream.

Under the “amended” Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement Mr. Atkinson so vocally supports, special interest signatories “agreed” that they accept zero liability for any acknowledged “substantial and unmitigated” damages, negating “rights” of private property use/property values/infrastructure/regional security/safety/fire protection/species/habitats and more, beyond the capped funds they confiscated from the ratepayers/taxpayers, including those most affected supermajorities voting against regional destruction and environmental devastation. Apparently none of this matters to them. Special interests intend “precedent” destruction to occur regardless of consequence, as long as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepts their KHSA/Klamath River Renewal Corporation demands to be held unaccountable for those damages.

If FERC considers the current data, studies, and alternatives refuting special interest limited assumptions fabricated over 13 years ago, known enhancements to existing environmental Project improvements can be implemented at a fraction of underfunded destruction costs. For FERC to consider imposition of regional destruction, a full environmental impact statement inclusive of current information and alternatives should be required before any license transfer, and special interest KHSA/KRRC signatories, individually and jointly, must “agree” to be personally held fully accountable to mitigate all incurred damages and losses, known and unknown, without intervening or limiting obstructions, no less than would be required of you or I.

Please send FERC your opposition.




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