board mulls PacifiCorp project
Locals say they want Upper Klamath Basin dams to remain
(Deadline Extended to
for the Capital Press
YREKA - The
California State Water Resources Control Board is holding meetings
to determine whether PacifiCorp's Klamath Hydroelectric Project
can meet water quality requirements.
PacifiCorp must receive certification from the board to renew
their operating license. The board found that the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission's environmental impact statement was
incomplete, so it is preparing a report on the project and its
impacts. Their last meeting will be Nov. 3.
The California State Water Control Board encouraged a
roomful of people in Yreka to comment on environmental
concerns about PacifiCorpís Klamath River hydroelectric
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's final
environmental impact statement is available at:
Send written comments regarding the Klamath
Hydroelectric Project Environmental Impact Report to the
address below. Comments must be received by 4 p.m.
EXTENSION to February 23rd
State Water Resources Control Board, attention Jennifer
Watts, P.O Box 2000, Sacramento, CA 95812-2000; or call
916-341-5397; fax 916-341-5400; e-mail
The board will
address in their report J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and
Iron Gate dams on the Klamath River in California. They asked for
comments concerning the alternatives to current dam operations,
which are included in FERC's EIS.
from continued operation of the dams, to adding fish ladders and
screens, hatchery, flow, and habitat modifications, trapping and
hauling fish around the dams and removal of some of the dams.
Indian tribes, environmental groups and one fishermen's group
blame the dams for warm water temperatures, algae blooms, coho
salmon decline and blockage of salmon to the Upper Klamath Basin.
Most of the locals attending a meeting Oct. 21 in Yreka said they
want the dams to remain and asked the board to use pre-dam water
quality as a baseline in their report. They explained why they
believe the dams are not the cause of poor water quality and
Herman Spannaus, a fourth-generation property owner at Copco Lake,
asked the board to look at historical facts at the Yreka meeting.
"I question why PacifiCorp's feet are being held to the fire to
water quality standards that they don't have any control over,"
Spannaus said. "This water comes from Klamath Lake, which was warm
water to start with."
He cited Oregon State University research scientist Ken Rykbost,
who concluded there is enough phosphorus and warm water to support
algae blooms at the river's source from Sprague and Williamson
rivers and the Klamath Falls area.
Spannaus said water quality below Copco and Iron Gate dams is
better than above the dams and described some of PacifiCorp's
successful water quality improvements. He said dams don't kill
Dr. Richard Gierak, a physician, former member of the FERC,
chemist, biologist, and member of a fish passage advisory team,
said there was no potable water in the 1800s in the Upper Klamath
River, according to journals. He said there were no coho salmon in
the Klamath River until they were planted in the 1940s and '50s.
Coho are now listed as endangered.
Gierak said there have been record salmon runs on the Klamath
after the dams were built. He said sea lions and Indian gill nets
kill thousands of salmon at the mouth of the river, and ocean
conditions affect salmon runs. He is appalled that anyone would
suggest removing the hydropower dams, which provide renewable and
affordable power to 70,000 households.
Betty Hall of the Shasta tribe said that in 1827, explorer Peter
Skene Ogden came up the Klamath River and documented that the
salmon could not ascend beyond the rough rapids.
"When the fish got into Copco Marsh area they were already
spawning and beat up and they were inedible," Hall said. She said
removing the dams would be a waste.
Robert Franklin, a senior hydrologist with the Hoopa Valley tribe,
told the board, "I will think you've done a great job if you
report that the alternatives will not comply with the Hoopa Valley
Tribe's EPA-approved water quality standards and therefore will
not be legally feasible." Franklin said salmon will be eliminated
and the fisheries will collapse if the dams aren't removed.
Stephanie Tidwell, executive director of Klamath Siskiyou
Wildlands Center, said the board should deny PacifiCorp their
certification. She said PacifiCorp can't meet the Clean Water Act
and the Endangered Species Act and implementing the 41 mitigation
measures won't recover coho salmon as mandated by the ESA.
Freelance writer Jacqui Krizo is based in Tulelake.