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Klamath River dam removals should go forth

January 30, 2012 San Francisco Chronicle



After an 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.

The latest 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 blessing.

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 either nightmare.

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 restoration work.

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



Name withheld


7:59 AM on January 31, 2012

This comment is hidden because you have chosen to ignore TruthTime. Show Details

More about the bad science... Google maps shows that with each dam the water passes through the water is cleaner. That is because the dams filter this naturally mineral rich water that starts out warm and is cooled and cleaned as it travels downstream. You may not see this anymore as Google maps had grayed out the area - they have $ in wind turbines so want the dams out as well. Warren Buffet owns these clean energy producing hydroelectric dams that supply 70,000 homes with renewable and clean energy and cost hardly anything to run. He will pay little from this removal but gain enormously. Why? The local (not wealthy) residents are already seeing fee hikes, CA will see a new water bond and takes, and Federal Govt will kick in. Feinstein wants to sell the water, as does our Governor. Nature Conservancy, Water Keepers and the like are in bed in the whole scheme. Who suffers? All of us as we loose our local grass fed beef and local farms, drive good citizens into poverty and off their rightfully owned land and cities up north. It is unconstitutional from top to bottom and an example of the decay of our govt.


Name withheld


7:51 AM on January 31, 2012

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This is a very biased and misleading "editorial". Calling this an "agreement" is wrong. The county where 3 of the 4 dams are located voted in a legal general election in Measure G to keep the dams (by 79%), the tribe whose burial grounds are under the small lakes (Shasta Nation) were intentionally left out of the agreement - the tribes who benefit are wrongly at the negotiation and not even in the county but willing to go along with the program as they benefit in their 3rd land and $ distribution. The county supervisors did not sign the agreement (as did several other parties) because the agreement was so flawed in its science and intention. CA farmers are not in the agreement at all but are being wiped out due to water master fees going up 600-800times. Energy bills were already raised to pay for the removal that has not legally been approved by congress. To put the science straight - you must know that the CA Dept of Fish and Game and BLM straight out ignored their own hired expert fish panels whose reports are available on line - removing these dams will not benefit the fish, to the contrary there is much harm done in this removal. Can you imagine FDA approving a drug where the expert panel was ignored because they disagreed with the science?


Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/29/ED6C1MVIVB.DTL#ixzz1l7OVDj5S


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