Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
1/15/10 Sublegals: Vol. 16, No. 2, 15 January 2010 - Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen, and Institute for Fisheries Resources (Glen Spain).
The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) complements the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), which was released in September of 2009. Together, they provide a long-term blueprint for the funding, planning, permitting, execution, and restoration associated with the removal of the Iron Gate, Copco 1, Copco2, and J.C. Boyle dams, all operated by utility provider PacifiCorp. If all goes according to schedule, these dams will come out in 2020. The KBRA also establishes a separate, science-driven 50-year fisheries habitat restoration process and a program to curtail higher upper basin irrigation withdrawals and put between 130,000 to 230.000 additional acre-feet of water annually (annual amounts varying depending on rainfall) into the lower river to aid salmon restoration. In return, upper basin farmers would get far more certainty for their remaining irrigation water supply than under the past decade of nearly constant litigation and conflict, as well as other benefits.
Under the KHSA, the cost of the dam removals will come from two different but non-federal sources. A special fund will be set up with up to $450 million in it that will come in the first part ($200 million) from PacifiCorp, to be collected from ratepayers over the coming ten years. The remainder of the money ($250 million), if needed, is to come from a California water bond scheduled to go before voters in November, 2010 -- or from other California sources if that bond act does not pass. The precise cost of dam removal and related restoration afterwards will not be completely known until after a full NEPA and equivalent state environmental analysis and a Secretarial Determination by the Secretary of Interior, by March 31, 2012, that dam removal is in the public interest. However, most dam removal estimates to date fall well under that $450 million set-aside fund.
While many issues remain to be resolved and hurdles remain to be cleared, this is a major step forward toward what has been called the largest-scale dam removal effort ever undertaken. The actual documents released, and neutral summaries of their contents, can be found at www.edsheets.com by following the Klamath links. More information about the Agreements, hosted by the Karuk, Yurok and Klamath Tribes who have lived in the Klamath Basin for millennia can be found at www.klamathriverrestoration.org.
To read the 8 January press release visit Bay Area IndyMedia at www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/01/08/18634710.php. The 9 January Contra Costa Times article is at www.contracostatimes.com/california/ci_14155817. An 11 January blog posting from the New York Times about the Klamath negotiations is at http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/reaching-consensus-on-the-klamath.
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