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Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams responds to Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell’s letter to FERC that supports Klamath Hydroelectric Dam destruction

received by KBC News 10/20/16. This letter was sent to Herald and News

KBC News Note: The Klamath Dam Removal agreements are opposed by ourlocal elected officials: Klamath County Commissioners, Siskiyou County Supervisors, Oregon State Senator Doug Whitsett, Oregon State Legislator Gail Whitsett, California U.S. Congressman Doug LaMalfa, more than 80% of Siskiyou County residents (3 hydro dams targeted by Interior for destruction are in Siskiyou County) , more than 80% of Tulelake, California residents (which is within the Klamath Reclamation Project), and more than 50% of Klamath County residents (1 hydro dam targeted by Interior for destruction is in Klamath County).

The content of Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell’s letter to FERC, supporting the Klamath Dam Removal effort was very predictable. The claim boils down to, tear out the hydroelectric dams and the river will revert back to its historic pristine condition.

The idea of the Klamath River ever being clean and cold defies all the historic journals from the earliest explores. Klamath Lake and the Klamath River were described as mosquito infested, warm, foul smelling and not fit for man or livestock to drink. The natural occurring, volcanic based phosphorus presence, eliminates any chance of achieving pristine conditions. A real chance for major improvements in the water quality and quantity would be deep off stream storage and selective dredging.

The destruction of the dams would cause the lake and river conditions to revert back to those conditions the earliest explorers encountered. Not to mention the flushing of 22 million cubic yards of sediment down the river which would completely bury many of the historic spawning beds for generations.

The construction of the dams on the Klamath River have actually improved the water quality and the current ability to store water has eliminated the reoccurrence of the river literally drying up. The actual drying up of the river periodically, helps kill many of the parasites and algae. The dams could be used to temporally dry up the river bed at specific times to let mother nature, then achieve the same results. 

When the dams were built, the Iron Gate Hatchery was built to supply fish to the river system. It annually produces about 5 million salmon smolts per year. With dam removal, the hatchery will be a thing of the past.

The bottom line is simply the dams have and can continue to clean up the river, continue to provide clean energy production and help sustain much needed economic benefits for all.

Many, including supporters of dam removal have called this effort “The Grand Experiment”. I call it an experiment partly because much of the so called peer reviewed science Secretary Jewell references was commissioned and paid for by special interest groups that are promoting dam removal. The “creators” of this science including the sediment modeling, with dam removal has been done by organizations that have a high level of major failure in the past. Even if this “experiment “is successful, there is an acknowledgement that fish, if they ever get as far as Keno Dam, will have to be literally trucked from there to Klamath Lake. So if this is all about fish, why not capture fish at existing structures at Iron Gate Hatchery, and truck them to the Lake. This methodology is successfully being done in many other areas. The only other option is to also remove Keno Dam, which has been discussed in the “closed door “meetings, and yes, that would eliminate Lake Ewauna.

Secretary Jewell’s claim that the money to pay for dam removal is already in place is completely false. Yes, if you are a PacifiCorp rate payer, you are paying a surcharge on your monthly bill for Klamath Dam Removal, but the $250 million supposedly included in the California Bond funding does not exist except on paper. She also claims the “likely” cost of dam removal will be $292 million, way less than the $450 million available. The Secretary wishes to ignore the past FERC Report that estimated dam removal cost with the sediment issues to total as much as $4.5 BILLION. Another more recent study commissioned by her own Department of Interior, estimated dam removal cost at about $1 BILLION, this did not include most of the possible litigation associated with the sediment issues because it was such a huge unknown.

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which is to take over ownership during dam removal, would apparently be taking on all the liability associated with dam removal, sediment, etc. Problem is, this corporation has no assets, so guess who will still be holding that bag?

Do we still need a real comprehensive water settlement? ABSOUTELY!! I do believe in settlement and compromise, but I do not believe in complete surrender being forced upon the citizens by out of control Government.

Finally, Secretary Jewell mentions that the dams are private property and the owner, Warren Buffett, agrees to dam removal. If these dams do really belong to Warren Buffett, let him pay for their removal, after all, I think he can afford it!



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