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Residents sound off at dam meeting

KBC INFORMATION from Ca. Water Board - Send written comments regarding the Klamath Hydroelectric Project Environmental Impact Report to the address below. Identify a contact person in case the board has any questions about your comments. Comments must be received by 4 p.m. Feb 23rd, Deadline Extended
FERC’s Final EIS is available at: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/enviro/eis/2007/11-16-07.asp

Attention: Jennifer Watts
State Water Resources Control Board
P.O Box 2000
Sacramento, CA 95812-2000

Phone:  (916) 341-5397
Fax:      (916) 341-5400
Email:   jwatts@waterboards.ca.gov

*** Water board mulls PacifiCorp project; Locals say they want Upper Klamath Basin dams to remain, Capital Press, Article and VIDEO

Dam meetings By Heather Dodds, Siskiyou Daily News 10/23/08

Locals gathered at a scoping meeting for the Klamath Dams.

Yreka, Calif. -  Siskiyou County ranchers, landowners and citizens gathered at Yreka High School Tuesday night to provide public comments about the Klamath Hydroelectric Project for the California State Water Resources Control Board.

The gathering was one of six  scoping meetings being held throughout Northern California for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) being filed by the water board for water quality certification of the project, which has become a hot topic countywide.

PacifiCorp, who owns and operates the dams, applied to the state water board for the certification on Sept. 26. The board must apply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) prior to issuing the certification, and these scoping meetings are the first step of that process.

According to the board, the state of California has listed the entire portion of the Klamath River over which it has jurisdiction as “impaired” due to elevated water temperatures, elevated nutrients and reduced dissolved oxygen. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has also recently listed the uppermost segment of the Klamath River in California as impaired for excess microcystin toxins, board documents state.

The report seeks to identify all the affects on water quality that would occur if the dams are removed or remain intact. The report will address the Fall Creek, Iron Gate, Copco 1 and Copco 2 dams, all in Siskiyou County. The Link River, Keno and J.C. Boyle dams, all in Southern Oregon, will not be included in the report. More than 20 people spoke during the public comment session, bringing forward economic, public safety and ecological concerns about the project.

Harold Foster, a fifth-generation Siskiyou County farmer, said that if the Iron Gate and Copco I dams are removed, the sediment built up behind the dams will be released into the water.

Upper  Mid-Klamath Watershed Council member and district  4 supervisorial candidate Anthony Intiso agreed with Foster, stating that though dams are blamed for the lack of fish habitat because they cause “warm, nutrient-rich water,” he doesn’t feel that is the case.

Because the Klamath Watershed is “upside down” (the lower 1/3 receives more rainfall than the upper 2/3), he said, the Klamath Lake is naturally shallow, and warms rapidly. Intiso also cited economic concerns.

“The economic studies cited consider removal only and not all the other costs that will result in that removal,” he said. “Who is ultimately going to pay for it? Removal of the dams is the destruction of productive capital.”

Rex Cozzalio, whose family has lived below Iron Gate Dam for four generations, added that “the water quality is far better now than before the dams went in.”

Still others feel that dam removal would make the river cleaner.

Shelley Elkovich of Ashland, Ore., said her son became violently ill after a rafting trip down the Klamath where he accidentally swallowed water.

“I want you to look at the water quality levels where they concern public health,” Elkovich said.

Dr. Richard Gierak spoke last, saying that he doesn’t see why some environmentalists want the dams removed.

“Hydroelectric dams are the cleanest form of energy on our planet, and environmentalists would have them removed and replaced with coal-burning energy,” he said.
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