Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Research Council Final Report Quotes regarding:
Lake Levels and Flow Levels in 2001 BO:
"The committee found strong scientific support for all components of the reasonable and prudent alternatives given by USFWS in 2001 for the endangered suckers except for recommendations on maintenance of higher water levels in Upper Klamath Lake, for which the committee found no empirical support. " (p 29)
"Similarly, in reviewing the biological opinion of NMFS on the coho salmon, the committee concluded that all components of the reasonable and prudent alternative were supported scientifically except the one calling for higher flows in the Klamath main stem. The committee found little scientific support for these recommendations in relation to coho salmon, nor did it find any scientific justification for the proposals of USBR, which would have allowed the river to be operated at lower mean flows than had been the case for specific categories of water availability applicable during the 1990s." (p 29)
The report finds no evidence of a causal connection between water level and water quality or fish mortality over the broad operating range in the 1990s, the period for which the most complete data are available for Upper Klamath Lake (UKL). According to the final report, neither mass mortality of fish nor extremes of poor water quality shows any detectable relationship to water level. Further, standardized sampling of fry and studies of year-class strength for large fish do not indicate associations between water level and abundance of larvae. The report concludes “there is no basis for optimism that manipulation of water levels has the potential to moderate mass mortality of suckers in Upper Klamath Lake”.
On the fish die-off:
“....no obvious explanation of the fish kill based on unique flow or temperature conditions is possible” (p. 8)
“It is unclear what the effect of specific amounts of additional flow drawn from controllable upstream sources (Trinity and Iron Gate Reservoir) would have been. Flows from the Trinity River could be most effective in lowering temperature.” (p. 8).
During the teleconference held by the National Academy and Interior last October, Dr. William Lewis, Chair of the NRC Committee on Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin, said the following to reporters regarding the fish die-off and the CDFG draft report:
Lewis: "A simple explanation based on a unique low flow or high temperature is not possible."
A reporter from USA Today observed: "CDFG says the Klamath Project killed the fish. Is NAS saying they are incorrect?"
Lewis: "There must be some other dimension to this, other than flow or temperature. The CDFG findings are skeptical. The cause of the fish kill is unproven at the moment."
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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