Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Hornbrook Rancher Rex Cozzalio refutes Karuk spokesman Craig Tucker's claim of no drinking water or significant irrigation diversions downstream of Klamath Dams.
Tucker's comment on Klamath Basin Crisis Facebook page was in response to Seattle Times article regarding failures of Elwha dam destruction: Port Angeles, tribe say Elwha water plant never worked, still doesn’t, Seattle Times 7/16/16.
by Rex Cozzalio 2/10/2021
"With typical dismissive misdirection for public consumption, Mr. Tucker’s comments are at least consistent with his objective of Project destruction. Of course also consistent is his continuing exhibition of either a profound ignorance of the ‘most impacted’ Klamath Project area-specific history and region, or his intent, despite that knowledge, to impose his personally ‘enhancing’ agenda regardless of economic or environmental outcome. Either way it makes little difference, as he is positioned to profit regardless of outcome.
Anyone interested enough in the Elwha to look beyond the self-serving mass enviro-nancial driven media manipulating rhetoric, can easily find the actual ‘on the river’ results of destruction. In short, it turned into a disaster of confiscatory locally harmed communities, broken promises, environmental degradation, and rapid fire ‘on the fly’ drastically altered ‘expectations’ and prior claimed ‘benefits’. With the Elwha being the reigning ‘most expensive dams destruction’ in the world to date, that cost pales in the face of the Klamath. Ironically, with the Elwha being an extremely short, high precipitation, cool coastal ‘pristine’ environment, the odds of ‘success’ were infinitely greater than those for the Klamath. Nonetheless, the Elwha failed in virtually every ‘advertised’ benefit. Grossly underestimating Elwha released ‘sediment’, the company also involved in the Klamath ‘assessment’ simply absolved itself by citing ‘an unfortunate mathematical error’. Destruction proponents claiming ‘immediate and harmless flushing of sediment’ (sound familiar?) instead saw massive deposits visible from space destroying miles of vital kelp beds including the fisheries and mollusks which inhabited it. What is the newly created media from some of the same unaccountable proponents orchestrating both Elwha and Klamath destruction? ‘This unexpected event should be seen as an unexpected WONDERFUL creation’ of MILES of ‘new beaches for public use’ with the ‘expectation’ that ‘new habitats’ should appear in ‘just a few decades’! As with the prior forest shutdowns and the pending Klamath devastation, the response from those holding themselves unaccountable for damages is to merely alter the narrative to ‘justify’ even greater confiscatory authority and future financial security. The ‘science based’ Elwha destruction ‘certain to rapidly restore massive salmon runs’ has performed dismally, but those in a similar seat as Mr. Tucker have become adept at artfully conjuring ever changing ‘causes’ and ‘future expectations’. Elwha water previously supplying the needs for Port Angeles was so pure it required NO treatment except for the legally mandated minimal chlorine, but after ‘restoration’ is now so contaminated that a new water plant constructed at a cost of tens of millions of dollars could not handle the sediment and debris. An entire community on the Elwha was forcefully moved due to now uncontrollable flows. The fish hatchery built as a perc with public dollars for Tribal use and benefit that was designed with the expected ‘pristine’ river in mind failed due to water so contaminated it could not be used, requiring a massive well at additional public dollars to provide adequate water quality at a pumping cost of tens of thousands per year. Proponent assurances of ‘rewilded’ salmon spawning ‘benefit’ have instead seen formerly stable salmon redds compromised with unstable shifting sediment. Out of funds for ‘mitigation’, so much rebar and debris was left that the river could not be safely navigated. Never mind, s’all good… with the confiscated public money exhausted, previously ‘assured’ by Proponents as being ‘more than enough for ALL mitigation of damages’ (again sound familiar?), the Proponent response may be best expressed by the Park manager in charge of the ‘Project’, ‘you wanted a wild river, you’ve got it… the rest is your problem’.
Mr. Tucker likely knows all that, as well as being fully aware of the Klamath historical documentation, return statistics, and area specific empirical studies completely refuting their hypothetically based revisionist assertions that are repeated frequently enough to convince an unknowledgeable public. It appears that conflict is of little concern, as under their ‘Agreement’ terms, he is held harmless from ANY of the damages that occur from Klamath destruction. As a result, Mr. Tucker apparently has no problem making the KBC comment … ‘Note there no no drinking water or significant irrigation diversions downstream of klamath dams.(sic)’
Really? Glad he is so willing to inform and decide what is ‘significant’… Of course, once again, he fails to share the larger story:
There are MANY residents on Copco and the river below using their vested and vital riparian rights for both agricultural and domestic use of water, the use of which by the uncompensated majority will be inescapably compromised or lost entirely under the current ‘Definite Plan’. I guess that is not a problem to Mr. Tucker, as he has publicly stated his intent to go after Keno subsequent to downstream destruction. As an ‘Agreement’ signatory, though originally promising to ‘mitigate’ destruction damages, he is ALSO fully aware of the ‘Definite Plan’ revisions to reduce costs now taking a stance to legally challenge virtually ALL consequent claims using their created ‘Facilities Defense Fund’ paid for with money confiscated from unwilling ratepayers/taxpayers. Using legal advice again paid for by ratepayers, the rationale is that all they have to do is ‘economically break the first two or three claimants, and the rest will choose not to follow’.
The geology of the region is fractured volcanic, with any available subsurface water generally found fed through underground fissures often extending for countless miles from its origin, and having virtually no identified ‘aquifers’. That being the case, any wells existing within dozens of miles proximity to Copco in the 100 years of its existence may be subject to loss, a loss for which there are NO ‘Agreed’ mitigations.
EVERY diversion on the river for at LEAST 60 miles will be subject to loss from the both the surge and continuing deposits of silk currently trapped by the reservoirs. Even the likely underestimated amounts of sediment ‘anticipated’ by the very entities promoting area devastation admit to up to 7 feet of deposited depth. EVERY deep water refugia and diversion will be filled with clay, cementing redds, rendering intakes unusable, and requiring massive filtration costs due to drastically degraded water quality. How do we know? Not only do their own biased ‘evaluations’ ‘acknowledge’ that high ‘potential’, the residents actually LIVING on the river BEFORE Iron Gate unequivocally EXPERIENCED the dramatic enhanced environmental, fisheries, riparian stability, power generation, flood protection, and salmon conducive water quality improvements PROVIDED by the dam and reservoir. Resident early associations with area RESIDENT Indians and settlors living long before Copco and the Klamath Project CONSITENTLY cited a history of the DRAMATIC improvement of the region and river resulting from the Project and Copco, even if it did not benefit them personally. Those residents having nothing to gain by relating an inaccurate experience have been uniformly dismissed or arrogantly ignored by Proponents having no consequence.
The National Research Council acknowledges that the naturally occurring nutrient rich Upper Basin water is effectively un-ameliorable at the source. The ONLY deep water lakes in the entire Klamath River system of Copco and Iron Gate are indisputably PROVEN to IMPROVE incoming water quality delivered downstream.
The existing Klamath Compact ‘law of the land’ provides for 60,000 acre feet of water from Iron Gate for Siskiyou County irrigation use, a water right offering perhaps one of the greatest already assessed sustainable symbiotic opportunities for FURTHER TRUE environmental fisheries and water quality improvement. That opportunity is lost without the reservoir in place.
Copco and Iron Gate have repeatedly provided supplemental flows at various times for environmental purpose, storage which will NOT EXIST upon destruction of the dams and thereafter demanding even further real time confiscation of Upper Basin irrigation water.
With the destruction of the ONLY deep water lakes, the loss of their water quality improvements, supplemental storage capacity and timing options, degraded water quality and increased toxic algae potential delivered downstream during the most salmon detrimental time of year will exert even GREATER upstream Upper Basin oppression.
Interesting that despite his repetitive declarations of a regional history that never occurred and assertions of ‘environmental degradation’ the empirical science does NOT support, NO WHERE have I heard Mr. Tucker willing to contractually commit his future life, property, and income to those harmed if his ‘assurances’ are wrong."
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