Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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|(1) PLEASE DO NOT RESTORE MY KLAMATH RIVER was written and sent to us by Glen Briggs, retired civil engineer Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, June 2009. "I recently completed a paper which points out through research and personal knowledge, conditions that existed on the Klamath River downstream from the dams and conditions that should be expected to return with removal of those dams," Glen Briggs|
(3) A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW
(response by Glen Briggs to letter written by Glen Spain to "Glen Biggs" dated June 30, 2009)
The above referenced letter seems to be in response to my (Glen Briggs) paper titled ďPLEASE/ Do not Restore My Klamath RiverĒ and not to something written by someone named Glen Biggs. My paper referred to facts and conditions along the Klamath River downstream from the confluence of the Scott River during Fall months when water within the Klamath main stem was low and warm. There was really nothing in Mr. Spainís letter that addressed expected conditions within the river down stream from the dams should they be removed. In spite of that, I will give a different point of view concerning the FACTS included in the above letter. I wish to thank Mr. Spain for giving me this opportunity.
I have found that FACTS come in many forms. Some are incomplete such as my name in the salutation in Mr. Spainís letter, some are brightly colored and placed in fancy wrapping in order to make them say more than they really do, and then, somewhere down the line, there is the true or factual fact that holds its form regardless of the amount of scrutiny or varied interpretation applied.
Paragraphs (1) and (2): There is actually no known historical physical evidence substantiating the fact that Salmon were caught upstream from Upper Klamath Lake. Certain members of the Shasta Tribe state that tribes from the Upper Klamath Lake area came downstream to catch and dry Salmon within the fishing area ancestral to the Shasta tribes. Both Hamilton and Huntington use models developed from empirical data that is then applied to tributaries upstream from the Upper Lake. At one place in Hamiltonís presentation, he reasoned that fish could travel upstream past the Cascades in the Klamath River because they do it in the Columbia River. The difference in the two rivers is so extreme that this assumption is ludicrous. Their analysis completely ignores the one pre-dam reference included that says the predominance of the salmon run referred to could not get past the natural barrier and into the Upper Basin. Also missing from those documents is any reference to any studies done during development of the Klamath Project, development of the hydropower system, or documentation of any kind from either the California or Oregon Departments of Fish and Game as to actual extent of early fish runs in that area. My instinct tells me that there had to be considerable discussion before the decision was made to settle for a hatchery instead of fish passage facilities. It seems the main emphasis of the two studies mentioned above was to determine how many anadromous fish the upper basin could accommodate without realistically evaluating just how many are likely to get that far.
Coho Salmon are stated to be a Fall run species and are known to have inhabited the lower Klamath up to the Salmon River and migrating into that river as well as Blue Creek and the Trinity River. Coho Salmon were not known to resident fishermen fishing the mid to upper Klamath. They were called Silvers in the lower tributaries referred to above. Sometime in the late 1940ís Coho were introduced into the mid-Klamath after construction of the dams had improved fall water temperature conditions. This information was relayed to members of my family by a local Warden. On going Water Quality Studies by the California North Coast Water Quality Control Board puts stringent requirements on water temperatures in their TMDL programs where Coho Salmon are considered part of the resident fish population. I would think that a thorough search of the California State Dept. of Fish and Game records would reveal some interesting facts concerning Coho. The above documents make no mention of expected river water temperatures with the Power Dams gone and with large, shallow Upper Klamath Lake discharging warm water, when it does discharge water, and with no source of cooling water to introduce downstream. Predicted Fall flows and water temperatures are conspicuous by their absence from these documents. Recent late summer and fall studies sponsored by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation has shown that with releases of 500 CFS, river water temperatures are not cooled by incoming tributaries until you get to Seiad Valley and then between there and Orleans, water temperature cools by about 4 degrees. I have yet to see the facts that will make me believe that river water temperatures after dam removal will be any different than they were 150 years ago. Are you going to shut off all volcanic inflow in order to accomplish the TMDLís?
True, salmon dying after spawning will contribute to stream pollution. However, in the case of the Klamath River, conditions described by Mr. Gibbs along with occurrences past on by earlier members of my family indicates more than just that. Mr. Gibbs was trained as a lawyer in one of our countryís premier universities, and, like it or not, one of the benefits of being exposed to the educational process required of prospective lawyers is that it forces one to learn to think. You can scoff at the conclusions described in his Journal; however, an open minded review giving due credit to conditions he was encountering along with the small amount of knowledge available for the area being studied should lead you to the conclusion that Mr. Gibbs was very capable both physically and mentally.
Before completion of the first Power Dam across the Klamath, my family, living in the Mid-Klamath area, experienced episodes where the stench from dead fish was so great that the children were told to take sharp sticks to throw the fish back into the water. A past brother-in-law of mine who happened to be a fisheries biologist some years back with California Dept. of Fish and Game confirmed from Fish and Game records that at least some of these episodes were the result of diseased fish. This along with the notation by Gibbs that the salmon looked diseased only a short distance inland has to tell a story.
ARMY RATIONS for the Lewis and Clark expedition! You have got to be kidding!
Paragraph (3): I must admit that I will choose to stay at the disadvantage in these discussions because I do not wish to scan the FERC files which in my opinion have been padded with colored and incomplete facts in addition to much reliable information. I will stay with the knowledge I have acquired over the years and, though it may be as incomplete as the above referenced studies, I am comfortable with it. First, water coming to the reservoir already contains nutrients and, also, that portion of it that has passed through Upper Klamath Lake already would contain the toxins if such toxins are carried downstream instead of dissipating. The top few feet of the reservoirs are normally heated by the sunís rays; however, colder water settles to the lower depths, something about the density of cold water, and the sunís rays have little effect on this cold water. Toxins that do not dissipate would generally be found within that top few feet of warm water or within the organic sediment. Upper Klamath Lake, being a shallow lake would not have the benefit of colder water at depth plus it has whatever warming local hot springs might generate so I have a problem with your contention that water from the reservoirs kill off the salmonids and yet you say hundreds of thousands will pass through Upper Klamath Lake successfully. Water for use in the hatchery is drawn from the reservoir just a few feet below the surface and yet the hatchery has been able to operate successfully. Suction dredge mining has been a popular activity in the Klamath River for a number of years. These miners stay under water in the Klamath day after day with no apparent ill effects.
It is true that salmon living within the waters of the Klamath are subject to different diseases and some of these diseases kill off large numbers of the young and others large numbers of the adults. Be this as it may, I know of no study that relate these diseases to the Dams.
Paragraph (4): Cost studies and conclusions referred to in this paragraph are incomplete in their overall cost analysis; therefore, I will hold off comments pending completion of presently planned studies. The CEC letter strikes me as being more oriented around assumptions and suppositions than true and complete all around analysis.
Paragraph (5): Comprehensive studies presently being planned should determine toxicity of sediments and a pretty fair guess of total quantity. Existing sediments will probably contain a fair amount of organic material from the algae so if it is not toxic, just where does the toxicity exist and for what period of time? Whatever sediments sent downstream by whatever means will end up coating the banks along the river for decades. Sand, silt and other fine sediments thrown up along the river by various high waters back to and including the 1964/5 flood still coat the banks in many places. If sediment from the reservoirs contain toxins or other toxic material, it will be a threat to wildlife along the river for generations.
Paragraph (6): To reason that the dams should come out just because they only represent a very small percentage of the companies overall generating capacity is not good reasoning. This power is renewable with the energy removed from the falling water having no side affect on the physical world around this source of power except possibly erosion of the streambed for a short distance downstream. With the Klamath, loss of renewable gravel source through the dammed area would not be great, especially with Upper Klamath Lake in close proximity upstream and with many mountain tributary streams downstream acting as replacement sources. Whereas, continual expansion of wind farms should be expected to have a changing affect on weather patterns in those areas. Winds are created by differences in atmospheric pressure which could be subject to change with interruption of the air movement. I have seen nothing speaking to this possible problem and, if it has not been investigated, it should be. If I remember my lessons correctly, there is no action without a reaction.
(2) (June 30, 2009 response
by Glen Spain to Brigg's above article,
DO NOT RESTORE MY KLAMATH RIVER. Spain is the
Northwest Regional Director Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA), and Eugene Attorney. He is at
the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement closed-door negotiations
with a select group of government agencies, environmental groups,
and farmers who agree to dam removal and other requirements of the
"Dear Glen Biggs....
Page Updated: Monday July 27, 2009 02:58 AM Pacific
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