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Dam removal


Siskiyou officials dubious about hydro plans - California officials split on dam removal

By LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 10/2/09
Siskiyou County leaders are dubious, but at least one Humboldt County supervisor is hopeful.

Two of the California counties that will be most affected by proposals to remove four Klamath River dams are Siskiyou County, the location of three dams, and Humboldt County, where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Siskiyou County supervisors have been among the most critical of proposals to remove the dams. County counsel Tom Guarino, who represented the county at dam removal negotiations, and Supervisor Jim Cook, whose district includes the Tulelake Basin and Butte Valley, emphasize the county does not support the draft proposal.
  Cook:   “We haven’t agreed to anything, but we’re trying to take a meaningful look at it,” Guarino said of the draft.

“We’re trying to listen and review the document, but at the same time, protect the interests of the community as a whole. This is something that will irrevocably change Siskiyou County, if it happens.”

Cook said Guarino participated in the recently concluded private discussions because, “We felt they were going to do it anyway but we felt they weren’t going to do it right.”

Jill Duffy, a Humboldt County supervisor, agrees that Siskiyou County will be impacted by removal of the dams but believes the draft proposal outlines a way to resolve decades-old concerns.

“We’re just watching a systematic crash,” Duffy said of the loss of salmon and other fish that she said have decimated sport, commercial and tribal fisheries in Humboldt County.

“Is it doable?” she said. “Absolutely. We have forged a document where solutions to the problems facing the entire Klamath Basin are achievable.”

‘Rotating crises’

Duffy said the county joined the stakeholder sessions because, “The Klamath Basin is experiencing rotating crises. It’s been cycling for a number of years,” she said, referring to the 2001 shut off of water to Upper Klamath Basin irrigators, the 2002 fish kill, and several years of bans on sport and commercial fishing in the lower basin.

Duffy said special efforts were made to address Siskiyou County concerns, including provisions to provide up to $20 million to offset the loss of property taxes and other economic concerns.

“Twenty million is not enough to mitigate the damages,” said Guarino, noting the county estimates losing $1.6 million in taxes annually. “A single $20 million shot does not handle that.”

Guarino and Cook worry about the “scientific integrity” of studies, claiming some modeling studies were altered so that dam removal would seem to be the only economically feasible alternative.

“We only agreed to the release of the draft to bring it back for the review process,” Guarino said. “Siskiyou County is out there by itself. The bulk of the burden is being placed on Siskiyou.”
Side Bar
County counsel: Financial impact of dam removal $212 million       
   In a letter sent to California State Sen. Sam Aanestad and Assemblyman Jim Nielsen in September, Siskiyou County counsel Tom Guarino said the impact of removing four Klamath River dams totals $212 million.
   That includes property valuation losses of $12 million for the J.C. Boyle, Copco II and Irongate dams and $7.5 million for Copco 1. (All the dams, except for J.C. Boyle, are located in Siskiyou County). It also includes $11 million for lost property value; $172 million for the loss and cost of   replacement of renewable power; $4 million in local payrolls; $3.7 million for lost recreational opportunities; and $341,000 for lost recreational opportunities.
   He said the total does not include the cost of removing and decommissioning the dams, unidentified liabilities and other unquantified costs.
   Guarino said the figures are based on the Camp, Dresser & McKee Inc. (CDM) Report released in July 2008 that was prepared for the federal Department of the Interior.
Side Bar
State Senator Dave Cox issues statement       
   California State Sen. Dave Cox, whose district includes Modoc County, issued a statement on the dam removal draft agreement, which he fears could result in the loss of affordable electricity and water.
   “California’s farmers, whose livelihood depends on the dams, will be threatened if the agreement does not address the availability and affordability of electricity and water,” Cox said.
   “In a time when clean energy and water is in short supply, we must be careful and cautious about any agreement to remove a major source of energy and water for Northern California residents.”
   Cox also warned that the draft agreement has many unresolved details, “and details matter. Lawmakers must review the details of the agreement and foresee the unintended consequences before signing off on the final agreement.”   
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