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Must reconsider dam removal during drought

by Kevin Quinn, Tulelake, CA, letter to the editor August 13, 2021, Herald and News,

Our Basin is in flames. Wells that served generations of area families are going dry, and it will take decades of heavy winters to recharged the falling water table.

And they’re taking out the dams.

Locally, nationally and globally, unprecedented weather events are becoming commonplace. People can dispute the cause of these events, but no one can refute the evidence of them. The weather’s changing. Facts on the ground and in the sky are changing and policies must change to address them.

The question of dam removal is no longer as simple as farms vs. fish.

Those fish need more than dam removal to flourish. Migrating salmon need temperate summers and steady water streams fed by slowly-melting snowpacks that once lasted through September are now gone by May. Removing the dams will not moderate temperatures, or restore snowpacks nor can the best lawyers or the worst politicians legislate fish-friendly weather into reality.

If the dams go, then what?

Nationally and globally, rainstorms are less frequent and more severe — either too little rain or too much. Dam removal will increase downstream water volume and velocity, driving debris flows, watershed and streambed erosion, and prevent capture of stormwater for future use.

Throughout the Northwest, water conservation efforts that should have been in place this year may be unavoidable for years to come.

Yet they’re destroying our dams.

No responsible legislator would have suggested destroying those dams had we then been in this drought. Should any responsible legislator, now that we are in this drought — this mega-drought — proceed with destroying those dams? Facts have changed, circumstances have changed and policies must change to address them.

Destroying water reservoirs of high desert communities during a mega-drought is worse than negligent, worse than criminal. Destroying water reservoirs of high desert communities during a mega-drought is lunacy.

Kevin Quinn




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