Water: Klamath Basin Settlement Group Gives
Capitol Hill Briefing
followed by summary
On Thursday, January 24, 2008, key participants in the development
and execution of the Klamath River Basin settlement agreement
outlined details of the agreement at a congressional briefing
hosted by the California Institute. On January 15th, the Klamath
Settlement Group released the Proposed Klamath Basin Restoration
Agreement for public review.
Participants in the briefing pointed out several key provisions,
- A comprehensive program to rebuild fish populations sufficient
for sustainable tribal, recreational, and commercial fisheries.
Elements include: Actions to restore fish populations and
habitats, including a program to reintroduce anadromous species in
currently-blocked parts of the Basin; actions to improve fish
survival by enhancing the amount of water available for fish,
particularly in drier years; and other efforts to support tribes
in fisheries reintroduction and restoration efforts.
- A reliable and certain allocation of water sufficient for a
sustainable agricultural community and national wildlife refuges.
- A program to stabilize power costs for the Upper Basin's family
farms, ranches, and for the two national wildlife refuges.
- A program intended to insure mitigation for counties that may be
impacted by the removal of the hydroelectric facilities.
The Klamath Settlement Group has developed the Proposed Agreement
over the course of two years of negotiations, and it is still
refining some details in the proposal.
The Klamath Settlement Group is also negotiating with PacifiCorp
to reach agreement on the removal of the utility's four lower dams
in the Klamath Basin. Dam removal is a necessary part of the
overall restoration effort, the participants stated, and the
Hydropower Agreement along with the proposed agreement will
provide a comprehensive solution for the Basin.
The Klamath Basin is known for its array of National Wildlife
reserves and its abundance of wildlife. It is located along the
California-Oregon border (partially laying in Oregon) and is
comprised of the Lower Klamath; Tule Lake; Clear Lake; Upper
Klamath; Bear Valley and Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Reserves.
It falls within parts of Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties.
For more information visit
http://www.edsheets.com/Klamathdocs.html . To view
(wmv format) from the briefing or to listen to it in MP3 audio
format, visit the California Institute's audio/video page at
Summary of the DC briefing: This video and
http://www.calinst.org/audio/2008-01-24.mp3 it is over
an hour long It captures a briefing of D.C. people on the
Settlement Agreement by various participants.
Speakers: (1) Doug Wheeler former CA Resource Agency. He now
represents the Yurok tribe as an attorney. He represents that
there ARE 24 signators - that we have all already signed it. He
says that the parties are back talking with the Administration and
(2) Troy Fletcher -Yurok tribe right to fish meaningless without
fish. Want to meet subsistance, cultural and commercial fishing
needs. Promised Yurok fish. Court fights between
environmentalists, tribes and farmers over water. Stand down in
the media and stopped asking Admninistration for water. We have
solved it ourselves - certainty for ag, restoration of anadromous
fish, lake species, certain quantity of water for refuges,
increased habitat for wiildlife, funding for restoration
throughout basin, affordable. power. Water pumped all over the
Project. Agreement has assurances does not exempt ESA. Provides
protections to Williamson and Sprague farmers who want to
participate willingly to improved habitat and to reduce water
diversion. Yurok need minimum flows in river for fish. Oregon
adjudication - Settlement Agreement deals with water rights from
those who want to participate. Choice to participate or choice to
litigate up to the water user. Pathway to get to where we want.
This week can say we got an agreement. Asking Cong. Thompson and
Interior Secretary to work with us for this solution. Budget
asking $1 billion. $ 500-600 million of this already being spent
in Klamath Basin - asking that priorities in fed budget be aligned
to settlement agreement.
Detractors - we have given too much to farmers; we have given
tribes and fish too much. That shows they are middle ground.
Criticism - all issues in basin well known. This does require the
removal of 4 dams on the Klamath. The largest dam removal in the
world outside of war time. But the ag people say theu support dam
removal - imagine that. Dams don't produce much power and
relicensing conditions on sect 18 and 4E of Power Act put in $300
million fish ladders and increase bypass flows at JC Boyle which
is their money maker. Asking rate payors for $hundreds of millions
to put in ladders vs $120 million for removal.
The only population of anadromous fish doing moderately well fall
chinook. Spring and summer run chinook used to dominate 4-5 year
olds. Reintroduce. Good cold water in those areas. Above dams is
the habitat that produced the spring and summer runs. We know
won't get back to historic runs. Lets create environment where
restored fishery can coexist with agriculture. Realize farmers in
upper business not agribusiness. Communities have same family
concerns we have. Don't want to see migration out of our area or
into our area by development of farms.
They need to address criticisms against them. Break party lines
and gain Congressional .
PacifiCorp business wise won't make any money off 4 dams. Removing
dams a cheaper option and saves ratepayers. This is a small
percentage of their operation. Botton line they knew this was
coming out and we have had regular meetings with them. Works cause
makes sense business wise
Chairman Henry Waxman let them use the room. 9 environmental
groups. Difference of opinion. 2 Oregon groups have serious
concerns about leaseland farming. Priorities for water for Refuge
now better under Settlement. KFA, Salmon River Restoration
Council, NCoast Env. Center., Cal Trout, Friends of Rivers.
Loss of power = 70,000 homes, dams a fraction of demand. KFall 500
megawatt facility. Looking in Oregon for power development. BPA
could bridge power rate issue by using funding to build renewable
solar and wind for Project and off project farmers in Oregon for
Dams produce blue green algae. Serious health concern. In the
facilitrties 400,000 world health organizations threshold. Toxin.
Lethal for animals. Organ damage to humans. Dogs have died. You
can trace the bloom all the way to mouth of river. Son got a cold
sore from going in the river. Dams don't provide water for
agriculture, or flood control. 75,000 acre feet storage is all.
Lewiston over a million.
Concerns Dam removal - sediment don't know how impact. Link River
reef 10 foot dam notched into reef. the structure catches the
sediment. Keno dam will All the other dams, particulate matter
fine and small quality. We think it will wash though and leave
only localized small impacts. Dooable.
Klamath Tribes treaty terminated restored. Did not have water
hunting fishing rights terminated. Filed claim in Oregon
adjudication for their water rights claims. Will agree in
Settlement Agreement and future agreements not to assert against
those they have reached agreement with. Yurok has reserved fish
right (ability to make water right claim against anyone in basin.)
Have agreed that if 4 dams come and their funds authorized and
appropriated and water damand reduction happens agree to waive
past claims against United States against fishing damages and
would not assert any claims against United States in future. Our
water rights are not quantified our resolved. Have not
extinguished our water rights against the Scott and Shasta and
Trinity River. Have worked in a focus way with the Project
irrigators. Have not compromised our water rights. We have
retained our sovereignty.
Other lobbiests came in later: Paul Simmons attorney KWUA; John
Corbet Yurok attny; Joe Kirk Chair Klamath tribe; Scott Williams
Joe Kirk (Klamath): cutural ties all the way down to the dams. Fed
gov. ruled Klamath tribes have water rights. Amount OR state
determine in adjudication. Settlement Agreement - said at first I
didn't see where Klamath tribe getting anything. Now I think its a
good deal. tribe going to support the Settlement Agreement 100%
confident. Everybody made concessions.
Paul Simmons: will be going to townhall in Merrill Oregon. 15
individual irrigation districts will have to approve.
Confidentiality agreement only Bd of Directors have known.
Irrigators of Klamath Project. 3 objectives (1) certainty of water
supply in exchange for less. (2) Removal of dams meant salmon come
our way. Didn;t want more burdens (3) electrical power - have had
a past relationship with dams in past got a break tied with the
dams. Power part of Project infrastructure and how get
efficiencies on Project. Means affordable power costs.
Expect report back from signators on the 15th and expect to have
back PacifiCorp negotiation results.
Overheard conversation that Thompson and Walden would carry the