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Cost estimates of upgrading (Klamath) dams grossly inflated


That’s being done to make dam removal look more attractive than adding fish ladders

By Thomas Mallams, guest writer, Herald and News 10/18/09. Thomas Mallams is president of Klamath Off-Project Water Users Association.
   The most aggressive media blitz in the history of the state of Oregon is in progress. This effort reminds me of an overly aggressive obnoxious salesman trying to sell an inferior product to an unsuspecting public.

    The dam removal and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement seems to be continually forced along in spite of widespread distrust and opposition to both agreements. I believe now is the time for the public to truly get involved in exposing the truth and corrupt agendas of many involved in the process. The public needs to have complete and correct information on these issues so they can come to an informed decision.

    A recent news article on dam removal stated PacifiCorp costs to upgrade all four dams as being a total of $279 million. Any other costs they may claim are still being kept confidential.

    All these cost numbers are grossly inflated to make dam removal appear more attractive than fish ladders.

PacifiCorp statement misleading

    It was also indicated actual estimated cost of removal is still to be determined. This is at best a very misleading statement from PacifiCorp.

    True, there are additional studies being done, but the federal government has already completed two studies. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission completed a cost study in November 2007 and the Department of Interior completed another cost study (CDM report) in July 2008.

    The CDM report was kept confidential until it was leaked to the media the day after Senate Bill 76 was passed in the Oregon Senate in February of 2009. Senate Bill 76 mandates Oregon ratepayers pay the cost of dam removal.

    Since PacifiCorp estimates appear to be at the worst-case scenario for fish ladders and upgrades, the FERC report estimates, in a worst-case scenario, total dam removal costs at $4.4 billion. The CDM report puts costs, in a worst-case scenario, in excess of $1 billion. You do the math —  $279 million as compared to $4.4 billion. This certainly appears to be a blatant effort to hide the true comparisons of dam removal cost verses cost of fish ladders and upgrades.

    The claim that destroying dams is the only way to save the fish is completely unproven historically or scientifically. In fact, history and science actually indicates that the dams improve fisheries.

    Dam removal supporters always point to algae in the reservoirs, but continually ignore the historic algae problems present in the Klamath River before the dams were built.

    Some of the largest salmon runs on the Klamath River happened decades after all the dams were in place. Science shows the dams actually cool the water and provide sustained flows in the late summer. The real cause of lower fish numbers will be found in changing ocean conditions and massive unregulated foreign fishing off our coast..

     Our country seems to be losing its moral compass. As an active informed public, we can direct those in power to get us back on track where our founding fathers intended us to be. It is always a great temptation to yield or compromise our values of right and wrong, but our country has compromised our values to a point that we would not be recognized by our grandparents, let alone our founding fathers.

    As written, these agreements attempt to give Klamath Reclamation Project Irrigators a little assurance of water deliveries. The problem is, this so-called “block of guaranteed water” does not magically appear. It will come from 0ff-Project irrigators being shut off whenever the powers-to-be feel fish or some other future endangered organism needs more water.

Water wars won’t be settled

    The outcome of these issues will affect more than the Klamath Basin.

    The claim that these agreements will settle the “Klamath Water Wars” is absolutely false.

    If adopted, precedents will be established that will greatly affect the entire State of Oregon, including the Rogue Valley, as Oregon water law will be changed or modified in these agreements.

    Do you think for one solitary second, that dam removal efforts will stop with the Klamath dams? Dam-removal efforts in other areas such as the Columbia and Snake rivers will be pushed even harder than ever before.

    Affordable, renewable, replacement power does not exist to fill the gap if any of these hydro dams are destroyed. I guess the last person leaving the Klamath Basin won’t have to turn out the lights, as there won’t be any electricity connected to the switch.

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