Several representatives have spoken to service groups here
in the Klamath Basin. They represent the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Servcie plus the newly created Klamath River Dam
Removal Corporation (KRRC).
collective comments plus an article in the Herald and News
on March 28 prompted this writer to question information and
facts on what are the expectations, and who will be
accountable for the success of this major initiative.
have been several articles in the paper that have made
specific references to improving water quality in the
Klamath River with the removal of the dams plus the
possibility of “freeing up the 50,000 acre feet of water for
agriculture,” that is reserved to help flush the river.
Coupled this are the unanswered questions of will the
removal improve water quality and will it provide lower
temperatures so that the fish can survive?
questions remain unanswered. Before we move forward with
spending the $200 million of ratepayers assessment for this
project, we do need answers and guarantees that this will
shallow, warm lake
first take a look at the source of the Klamath River.
Klamath Lake is what limnologists call a eutrophic lake. For
the lay person it is a lake near the end of its life that
has become very shallow and very warm during the summer
months. Temperatures have been reported at or near the
surface of close to 80 degrees fahrenheit.
Studies by government agencies have revealed that the
nitrogen and phosphorus level in the lake water and sediment
are very high which all contribute to the high
concentrations of algae seen in the lake.
Additionally, we need to consider the physical nature of the
lake. In the late 1990s and early 2000, environmental
organizations have taken several thousand of acres of
farmland adjacent to the upper end of Klamath Lake and
turned them in to marshlands. This can also be contributing
to the warming of the waters in the Lake.
also interesting to note that a recent speaker from the US
Fish and Wildlife noted that the decline of the adult sucker
population in the lake has been declining since the year
2000. There has been an extensive effort by the USF&W folks
to rear suckers to sustain the population of adult sucker
Cooler waters questionable
the data presented show that the creation of new marshlands
has had just the opposite effect and is now really
detrimental to the sucker fish?
let’s look at the dams on the Klamath River. If you take
Copco 1 Dam as a representative sample of the dams to be
removed, the intakes for the power sources are drawn
approximately near the top one third of the dam to supply
appears to be no bottom or lower draw point in the structure
thus preventing flushing services during warm water season,
hence they cannot really contribute to providing beneficial
cooling waters to mitigate the high temperature water coming
from Klamath Lake.
from that issue is the real question of the 20 million cubic
yards of “toxic” sediment behind the dams as reported in the
Herald and News. There was no explanation offered by the
representative on how that would be managed.
fact, the silence was deafening; hence do we really know how
long it will take to eliminate the toxic threat of the
sediment behind the dams? Could there be a new requirement
to release more water from the upper basin to mitigate the
sediment issue? Could the requirement for additional water
so as to help flush out the river, now also come from the
Before, we as taxpayers and ratepayers, plus Pacific Power,
spend close to half of a billion dollars to remove the dams;
what assurance do we have that the removal will work and who
will be responsible, if it doesn’t?
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