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Dams a key part of KBRA
Voters likely would help pay for removal
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 10/9/10
The issue: Four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River will be removed if government studies determine removal is the best option.
Dam removal is a key component of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and voters should care because they likely will help pay for it.
Why voters should care: The dams are owned by PacifiCorp, and a surcharge to Oregon and California ratepayers will be used to fund removal.
What proponents say: Dam removal is necessary to improve water quality and provide access to spawning habitat for salmon and other fish.
What opponents say: The dams provide inexpensive power, and removing them is part of a liberal political agenda that would encourage environmentalists to fight for other dam removals.
The KBRA, which aims to resolve water disputes in the Klamath River Basin, also is dependent on dam removal and could be halted without it.
“If dam removal fails, there won’t be 90,000 acres going to the (Klamath) Tribes,” said Frank Goodson, vice chairman of the Klamath County Republican Central Committee and a director of Klamath Conservative Voters political action committee. Goodson opposes the KBRA and dam removal.
The four dams — Irongate, Copco No. 1 and No. 2 and J.C. Boyle — can produce a maximum of about 163 megawatts of power. J.C. Boyle is in Klamath County. The other three dams are in Siskiyou County.
Along with improving the Basin’s environmental health, proponents say removal is the best option for PacifiCorp’s ratepayers, as it would be less expensive than relicensing them.
“We just don’t think we can improve water quality and improve runs of salmon without removing dams,” said Craig Tucker, Klamath campaign coordinator for the Karuk Tribe of California.
Tucker said removing the dams would reopen at least 350 miles of spawning habitat for salmon. The water would be better suited for fish, as water currently warms in the reservoirs behind the dams and harbors algae and fish disease.
He added removal also would be best for PacifiCorp’s customers, as indicated by the Oregon Public Utility Commission’s surcharge approval.
Goodson said most people in the Basin don’t approve of dam removal because they’re conservative.
Dam removal would facilitate the migration of endangered species such as salmon into the area, subjecting residents to more restrictions to protect those fish, he said.
Goodson said the adjudication of the region’s water rights should continue without the KBRA and any attempt at a settlement should start back at the table with everyone involved.
Page Updated: Sunday October 10, 2010 02:32 AM Pacific
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