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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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 Proposed Dam Removal Studies

Guest Opinion by Grace Bennett, Siskiyou County Supervisor, Pioneer Press 7/15/09

There have been several letters written to the Editor about the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors not jumping on the Gravy Train in regard to the PROPOSED REMOVAL of the four dams on the Klamath River. Is this a gravy train or a train wreck?

Your Board of Supervisors is asking for some very prudent scientific and unbias studies to be completed before the Secretary of the Department of the Interior makes the discussion about whether the Dams should be removed or if they should stay.

These studies include the social, economic and environmental impact that will come from dam removal and how these impacts will influence you and your lives.

What will happen to the sediment behind the dams, is it toxic, how deep is it and how it will effect the river if is allowed to just go down the river? What effects will dam removal have on those living along the river: although it is said that the dams don't provide flood protection we that have lived along the river know that they do provide some protection from high water events. What happens to those who have water right pertaining to the Klamath Basin Drainage area? What happens to those living around the lakes, how does this effect their property values and the muddy banks that were once lakes, will this area be restored or just left to wash into the river to create more sediment? This is the home land of the Shasta Tribe, they have burial grounds and other areas of concern under the Lakes; these too have to be evaluated.

Where is all of this clean pure, cold water coming from? The Klamath River is a warm water system; the Upper Klamath Lake is shallow and produces enough algae to support a thriving natural dietary supplement business in Klamath Falls. Then 25 percent of this water is diverted to the Farmers in the Klamath basin to grow some of the best crops in California and Oregon: after the farmers use the water it goes to the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge for their use then it is pumped back into the river and sent on down to California. The California State Water Board has identified that this area before the first Copco Reservoir has the most impaired water on the entire Klamath River; after it leaves Iron Gate Dam the water is cleaner. Do we really want the most impaired water continuing on down the rest of the River?

Now let's talk about the quality of water. Like I said before, where is all of this wonderful Clean Water coming from. If you have talked to any of the people who have lived on the River for generations you will know that before the dams the river was low and smelly in the late summer months, a lot of the creeks and rivers that empty into the river dried up or have very low water levels. Even some of the Native Americans can remember their grandparents and great-grandparents saying that the Tribes would move away from the River in the fall because of the smell. With the dams we have a reserve for the times when it is hot and dry, enough water to let it out when the fish are ready to come and spawn. The Klamath River is a warm water system; we can not make a warm water system cold.

Right now our Farmers, Ranchers, Fisherman, Loggers and Miners are enduring many regulations and restrictions on how they do their business. These people are trying to follow these rules and still be able to make a living by using the land and river and taking care of them. No one wants to see our world destroyed, but we all live here and we must be able to work, support our families and enjoy the wonderful area that we all love.

Your Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors is continuing to gather information and fight to get answers to the many questions that you have asked.
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