Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
To Klamath County Legislative Delegation
From James R. Ottoman
My name is Jim Ottoman and I would like to thank the Klamath County Legislative Delegation for holding this forum today giving citizens the opportunity to express their views on this important subject.
In 1946, I took a class on "water" at Oregon State College - now OSU - from a Dr. Powers. My interest and involvement in "water" has continued to this day. There is a general misconception that taking out the dams on the Klamath River will increase the flow below the Iron gate Dam. This cannot happen because the water that leaves Keno Dam is the same water below Iron Gate and hydro power is a non consumptive use of water.
I know three points of inquiry that should be resolved before any final decision is made to destroy the dams on the Klamath River.
The first and most important is Oregon's Adjudication of the Basin's water. Many know that the time spent on the KBRA delayed the adjudication process. There are questions that need to be addressed to conform with Oregon's Water Law.
1. all stakeholders need to know how many sec/ft of flow will be designated in establishing the minimum stream flow on Oregon's part of the River.
2. in future years is it possible that an increase in demand of the established stream flow could require that water now being diverted to the Rogue Valley be returned to the Upper Klamath watershed? The Bureau of Reclamation diverted water to the Rogue Valley for the Talent irrigation project authorized by the Klamath River Compact. +/- 1954
Liability is the second point. All stakeholders must face their own liability that comes with dam removal. As of now, different interest groups just kick this problem down the line to the next group to deal with it. The Oregon Legislature recently passed a bill - over the objection of our local Representatives - to charge Oregon's power ratepayers - in advance - for their part of the cost of dam removal. This could open the door for litigation. Paying for an idea that might not happen is like paying for a dying horse.
The third point is cost. It has taken 100 years for Klamath water users to develop the most beneficial use of water in any watershed in the West. This has been achieved through the use of two 50 year contracts for hydro power rates. This rate has allowed the re-use of water for irrigation, wildlife and clean hydro power.
In my opinion, it would take the Federal Government 20/30 years to demolish the dams. In that time, it could cost billions of dollars. Can our Nation afford this? And then who really knows what the results might be. Water stored behind dams has many uses including domestic, flood control, clean hydro power, irrigation, navigation and wildlife. All of these uses make a great Nation. I LOVE DAMS. !!!!
Page Updated: Monday November 23, 2009 01:23 AM Pacific
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