all-sides agreement and lengthy scientific study,
the country's biggest dam removal project should be
on track to restore the Klamath River. But the
momentum behind this promising project could stall
if Washington lets political gridlock sour the deal.
update in the years-long effort is hundreds of pages
of studies that give a fuller picture of the impact
of taking out four dams that date back nearly a
century and straddle the California-Oregon border.
The findings expand on earlier work by adding
compelling evidence that a free-flowing river will
restore salmon runs, revive the sickly river, and
still allow for irrigation water for Oregon farmers.
But partisan politics deepened by this November's
elections could disrupt the process. Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar, who called for the studies,
is due to make a decision on demolition in March.
The weight of the findings plus the widespread local
consensus for removal suggests he'll give his
But the idea still needs support in Congress,
where the outcome isn't guaranteed. House
Republicans are leery of taking out the dams, saying
the benefits are uncertain. We suggest these
doubters study pictures of the thousands of dead
salmon in 2002, killed by warm dam flows, and then
revisit the angry conflicts in 2001 between farmers
and environmentalists over water diversions. The
pending plan has the potential to end a rerun of
Democrats, led in this fight by Rep. Mike
Thompson, whose North Coast district takes in parts
of the Klamath region, have argued the overriding
benefits of the plan and the remarkable fact that it
was crafted by once-warring enemies.
The costs will be distributed among several key
players. Oregon and California will contribute up to
$200 million each. The utility that owns the dams
and local power customers will also pay in. Federal
sources will then step in to cover additional river
As the latest studies show, dam removal makes
sense. The cost was estimated at $291.6 million in
2020 dollars, the year when the four structures are
due to go. That's a smaller number than earlier
estimates. Also, the project will mean 1,400 jobs
during one-year demolition and another 4,600 jobs
over the next decade to restore river habitat.
Yet none of this will happen if Washington won't
agree. The Klamath region, which fought for years
over the river's decline, now has a serious,
scientifically tested plan for the future. All the
players - farmers, environmentalists, fishing
groups, tribes and others - are on board.
This is one water war that should be called off.
Washington has a duty to follow through on a deal,
not prolong a harmful battle.
This article appeared on page A
- 9 of
the San Francisco Chronicle
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/29/ED6C1MVIVB.DTL#ixzz1l7OVDj5S