Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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PacifiCorp to resubmit water quality application
By Frank Galusha, Easywriter, outdoors columnist, Mount Shasta News, August 14, 2008
Dunsmuir, Calif. - Klamath dam removal advocates may have been a bit too eager to pop the cork on the champagne bottle last month when it was learned PacifiCorp had withdrawn an application for water quality certification from the California State Water Quality Control Board.
Apparently, the Warren Buffett-owned subsidiary that operates several hydropower-producing dams on the Klamath intends to resubmit its request for certification, according Art Sasse, a PacifiCorp spokesperson.
This may explain why a brief “high” among dam removal advocate groups turned suddenly into a case of “back to reality.”
While there is a restoration “agreement,” there is much disagreement, within and without the Klamath River Watershed and Upper Klamath Basin, about that so-called settlement. What’s more, the companion “hydropower agreement” is far from being a reality.
The announcement of the “pulling of the permit application” was seen by some as a smoke signal of surrender, maybe even as a “cave-in” or signs of a government buyout. More likely, it was just another sign of PacifiCorp’s willingness to facilitate negotiations for a long-term settlement. Little seems to have changed.
Sasse wrote, “PacifiCorp withdrew its application for water quality certification in California to facilitate current settlement negotiations for a long-term resolution of the project. However we do intend to resubmit our 401 application in the near future.
“This is a common occurrence in hydro licensing. Utilities withdraw and resubmit 401 applications all the time. We continue to diligently work in the best interest of our customers and while you will probably hear all sorts of rumors and conjecture in the coming weeks and months, we can’t respond to continued speculation.
“We have been quite clear during the past four years during relicensing efforts by stating that if elected officials feel that as a matter of public policy and after careful consideration of independent scientific evidence, that PacifiCorp should no longer operate the Klamath hydroelectric project, then as long as our customers are protected in terms of costs and liability, PacifiCorp would work with those elected officials to facilitate their desired outcome for the Klamath basin community.”
Sasse added, “We are at the table with numerous parties. As with every hydro relicensing effort — we also prefer to reach a settlement, subject to FERC’s final sign-off. That settlement ranges from a new license with fish mitigation and other environmental measures to possible removal.
“In our last six hydro project settlements — we’ve agreed to removal on three of the projects and have received a renewed 50 year operating license on the others.”
No peace on Klamath yet
Matt Jenkins wrote an article entitled “Peace on the Klamath” which was published by High Country News on June 23 to wide acclaim.
Only observant readers noted the article was made possible with support from the William C. Kenney Watershed Protection Foundation and the Jay Kenney Foundation whose board members have ties to Friends of the River to finance their activism.
A careful parsing of the subhead, “The enemies in the West’s most vicious water war have finally reached a ceasefire,” was also in order.
• Author’s note: (I began just such a dissection paragraph by paragraph, because of the myths being perpetuated, a project still underway. Fortunately, that task was also being undertaken by other critics.
If you want to read the original article with rebuttals to many statements, go to www.klamathbasincrisis.org/settlement/articles/kbcomntsPeaceOnRivr062408.htm)
As this site demonstrates, dam removal advocates certainly have a well-oiled PR machine, but the human beings who have made their lives, homes and communities in the Upper Klamath Basin for the past 100-plus years are beginning to sharpen their quills, too.
As renowned UC Davis Watershed professors Mount and Moyle said in their letter of Nov. 16 to the USFWS, “Despite press reports to the contrary, we have seen nothing that would indicate that a dramatic increase in salmon and steelhead populations will occur following removal of the dams.”
Upper Klamath Lake study looks shallow
Coincidentally, the US Geological Survey, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon State University released a study last month that attempts to lend support to the theory that salmon runs could be restored to the far Upper Basin — to the Williamson and other Oregon rivers via Upper Klamath Lake.
The study was called a “first step” by FWS field supervisor Phil Detrich. Detrich is one of the officials who got the Moyle/Mount letter noted above. That letter was not widely disseminated. Why not?
And, yes, studies must start somewhere, sometime! But the USGS studies noted above were done in October 2005 and May 2006, maybe not the worst of times future salmon will face.
The studies were also small in scale and conducted in the northernmost two kilometers of Upper Klamath Lake and the Williamson River itself — perhaps the healthiest portions of the “crib.”
The study purports to show those waters are “sufficient to support the physiological development of this native fish.”
OK, but that’s 200-plus rough river miles from the ocean where Chinook begin their journey.
What’s more, UKL is at least 25 miles long, mostly eight-feet or less in depth, very warm and algae-ridden at this time of year just as the fall Chinook run is set to begin.
We can’t be sure salmon would even make it that far, let alone spawn successfully and re-migrate to the sea without the dams. Nor does history prove — pre-Klamath Basin Reclamation Project — that many, if any salmon did it in the past. The calls for dam removal should be muted until we prove otherwise.
Outdoor news magazine shuttered
Fishing & Hunting News, an 8-1/2 x 11 biweekly newsmagazine published in California, Washington, Oregon and other states since 1954 put out its last issue on Aug. 7.
This was disappointing to subscribers and many in the outdoor news reporting community.
F&HS offered useful, forward-looking editorial with excellent illustrations and maps.
The loss cuts the field of such printed publications in California to the weekly Western Outdoor News and the Fish Sniffer, another twice-a-month periodical dedicated only to fishing in the west.
The publisher, Outdoor Empire Publishing of Bothell, WA noted, “Outdoor industry consolidation and the recent state of the economy have resulted in a declining business climate for much of the magazine industry. (We have) taken this sad but prudent step in recognition of those facts.”
The release also said the publisher would continue the association memberships that allow it to publish three tradeshow product guides (for SHOT, ICAST, and NRA); however, “It will also seek to sell those publications, the Fishing & Hunting News brand, website, and related assets.”
In my view it was F&HN’s ability to churn out numerous short, features giving outdoor buffs, particularly newcomers to a river, lake, stream or hunting activity, useful tips on how to make their outing, weekend or vacation a lot more productive. I’m sad to see the publication discontinued.
For fishing and hunting details see myoutdoorbuddy.com
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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