Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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KHSA premise unfounded
Klamath River — In 2002 there was a serious fish kill of 33,000 salmon on the lower Klamath River. Environmentalists sounded the alarm that the toxic algae above the hydroelectric dams was responsible for the kill. Indian tribes raised the cry that warm water and lower flows were the primary cause of the kill. Fish & Game did not sample the waters until a week after the kill was complete.
As a result of the environmental alarm of toxic algae in the reservoirs above the hydro dams the lakes were posted as toxic and the public was warned. Because of this action it was deemed that the dams had to be removed to protect people and the salmon runs, and thus the KHSA was born. A Center For Disease Control study, “Recreational exposure to microcystins during algal blooms in two California lakes,” was initiated in 2009 and the waters in the reservoirs were deemed non-toxic.
It should be noted that in February 2003 the Humboldt, Del Norte, and Siskiyou sheriffs departments in addition to the California Conservation Corps believed that the salmon kill was caused by a large methamphetamine dump. This was reported in both the Siskiyou Daily News and the WorldNetDaily.com in February 2003.
Of primary importance was the Fish & Game report published in 2003 that indicated the following: “The DFG concludes that low flows and other flow-related factors (e.g., fish passage and fish density) caused the 2002 fish kill on the lower Klamath River.
Furthermore, of the conditions that can cause or exacerbate a fish kill, flow is the only factor that can be controlled to any degree. Flow is regulated by upstream reservoirs operated by the USBR on both the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.
“Fish and Game also determined that the floods of 1997 and 1998 caused deposition of material in the lower Klamath that reduced the depth for returning salmon. In addition to this factor, the Trinity River had 70 percent of its waters diverted to Southern California, thereby reducing not only the depth of the river but the increase in the temperature of the Klamath River.”
The Hoopa tribe water/boat celebration called for a pulse flow into the river system which decoyed the salmon into the river system and the flows were then decreased, leading to low-flow conditions trapping salmon in a narrow part of the river with shallow water and increased temperatures.
Based on the above scientific data it becomes apparent that the hydroelectric dams and reservoirs on the Klamath River had nothing to do with the 2002 salmon kill. As stated by the Department of Fish & Game, the only way to reduce future salmon kills is to regulate the flow of water by the reservoirs above the dams. Without those reservoirs there would be no regulation of flow and the fall run of salmon would disappear.
Historically, until the dams and reservoirs were built there was no fall run of salmon as the river would turn into marshes and swamps in a dry year. The entire premise of removing hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River has no scientific validity and the KHSA was based on faulty assumptions which have been scientifically dismissed.
The removal of the KHSA from the KBRA is of prime importance in guaranteeing future runs of fall salmon.
– Dr. Richard Gierak lives along the Klamath River and has degrees in biology and chemistry and a doctorate in the healing arts.
Page Updated: Thursday April 28, 2011 02:48 AM Pacific
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