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Spain: How Klamath dam removal benefits the region


KBC Note: Klamath River is full. Klamath Lake is full. More water is being demanded down the river than historic flows ever were. More water is demanded than is actually coming into Klamath Lake. Irrigation water storage in Klamath Lake was confirmed by a court this year demanding that Bureau of Reclamation could not legally withhold it from irrigators. Glen Spain has consistently advocated buying out farmland and water rights to dry up the Klamath Project which was historically a navigable lake up to 30' deep. Glen Spain/PCFFA, with Soros-funded Earth Justice, sued against us farmers in our Takings Case; our stored water was denied to farmers in 2001 even though we have deeds with water appurtenant to our farmland signed by a US President, so we sued to be compensated. PCFFA sued against us for our water quality. "The best available science" / National Research Counsel, Dr William Lewis Jr, said our water was historically bad because of minerals, and lake level and river flow management would not help water quality or the fish.  Flushing flows only add more mineral-laden water to the river, and taking more land out of production will not help fish. Scroll to Dr Lewis:  http://klamathbasincrisis.org/science/sciencewkshop020304.htm . About dams, they support several dam reservoirs and their lakeside communities, are providing water for fighting the current raging wildfires in Siskiyou County, and provide flood control (pre-dam many were killed in floods). They provide 70,000 households with clean renewable power. Spain did his best to derail an alliance with Oregon Trollers and Klamath farmers, blasting Klamath farmers and Klamath Water Users Association: Glen Spain letter to trollers 051605  Here in another interesting commentary on Spain and his attitude toward farmers Tribes and farmers come together while Glen Spain, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen and Eugene attorney, still fueling the flames. Here is a collection: PCFFA/Glen Spain. Here's what the Oregon Trollers thought of PCFFA: Letter from Oregon troller Scott Cook to Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen

Regarding the comments by Felice Pace, Pace came from back east to Siskiyou County and was Klamath Forest Alliance,shutting down our timber industry as Siskiyou is now engulfed in flames due to no logging or forest management. He helped Karuk spokesman Craig Tucker form Klamath Riverkeeper, which consists of the Klamath River Tribes, who were able to continually sue the farmers and miners along with PCFFA, and advocate destroying the dams. Pace, Spain, Tucker all want the dams out and Klamath farmers gone.

Glen Spain's letter:

A June 16 opinion piece by Charles Ehlers outlined what the author perceived as lost benefits if the four lower Klamath dams are removed. Any real or imagined “benefits” fade quickly when contrasted with what these aging dams are costing, every year they remain. Let’s start with water impacts to agriculture.

Here is an excerpt from a Bureau of Reclamation news release in 2018: “A March 2017 court order from the U.S. District Court Northern District of California requires Reclamation to release water as part of its operation of the Klamath Project to mitigate and address disease concerns impacting coho salmon in the Klamath River. For the 2018 water year, Reclamation is required to implement winter-spring surface flushing flows and emergency dilution flows. Reclamation implemented surface flushing flows in April 2018. Disease thresholds for implementing additional emergency dilution flows were exceeded on May 3. The emergency dilution flows will utilize approximately 50,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake.”

The need for augmented river flows remains, so long as the four Klamath dams remain in place. While severe drought conditions prompted Reclamation to suspend additional flows this year, upper basin agriculture had better brace itself for future flows targeting disease every year the dams remain. Is that a wise use of water when numerous studies have concluded that dams are a primary reason creating the need for seasonal “flushing flows” because the dams foster the very disease hotspots those flows are targeting?

Additionally, eliminating the current hot-water reservoirs would reduce annual river evaporation by an estimated 12,000 acre-feet per year — capturing additional water for a water-starved upper basin.

The mere 82 megawatts combined the dams actually generate is less than 2% of PacifiCorp’s energy portfolio. As to replacement power, when PacifiCorp was bought by Berkshire-Hathaway in 2005, the company legally committed to bringing more than 1,400 megawatts of brand new, cost-effective renewable power online by 2015, and did so. This is 17 times more power than the four Klamath dams generate all together. In effect, PacifiCorp has already replaced any lost power from the dams with modern, efficient and far more cost-effective renewable power many times over.

The costs of dam removal to PacifiCorp customers — $200 million — has already been collected. But if the dams had to be relicensed today, PacifiCorp’s own numbers show the cost to ratepayers would soar well past $500 million, with no guarantee of solving the multitude of water quality problems the dams create, if they could be solved at all.

In short, the Klamath dams are economically obsolete. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) estimated in its 2007 Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIS) on relicensing that even if fully relicensed, the required retrofitting would be so expensive that these dams would then operate at more than a $20 million per year net loss. (FERC FEIS (Nov. 2007), Table 4-3 on pg. 4-2). This is why the public utilities commissions (PUCs) of both Oregon and California concluded more than 10 years ago that Klamath dam removal was by far the best — and cheapest — option for PacifiCorp’s customers.

The Klamath dams have simply reached the end of their engineered and economic lifespan. Holding on to them anyway would be like trying to nurse along a 1918 broken-down tractor, instead of replacing it with a modern John Deere machine that would work faster, better and be more reliable.

PCFFA represents a lot of commercial, family-owned fishing operations. Our members have a lot in common with Upper Klamath farmers and ranchers. They work long and hard hours trying to make a living using natural resources. This year, Klamath Project farmers don’t have water and fishing families cannot fish because there are so few fish to be had. All the science points to more fish, better water quality, and less demand on the irrigation system resulting from dam removal. Dam removal is thus good for fishermen, farmers, Tribes, recreationists and the regional economy.

— Glen Spain is the northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, the largest organization of commercial fishing families in the West Coast.

Comments in Herald and News website:

Felice Pace
The idea that removing four of PacifiCorp's 5 Klamath River dams and reservoirs will majically fix the Klamath River and mean that spring flushing flows will no longer be needed is something that Glen Spain (and many others) hope is true. But the truth is that no one really knows how much improvement will come from dam removal. Personally, I am skeptical because the Klamath's bad water quality is mainly the result of poorly managed agriculture and also that Keno Dam and Reservoir will remain. That reservoir has the worst water quality in the entire basin and that bad water will continue to be exported down the klamath River. And we do know that poor water quality means more disease and a need to flush out disease with, you guessed it, Klamath River spring pulse flows.

Glen writes so assuredly that one wants to believe he knows what he is talking about. But this is the same Glen Spain who signed off on Klamath River KBRA flows that subsequently resulted in the death of 90% of the juvenile salmon descending the river. The KBRA would have locked in those bad flows forever.

Glen, whom I consider a friend, was wrong then and he is most likely wrong now. But then again, I could be wrong. The point is that no one really knows how much benefit the River and Klamath Salmon will gain from removing four dams, while leaving the worst water quality in the enire basin sitting there waiting to flow down the Klamath. What we do know is that promoters of dam removal are making claims of benefit that make them look good but look wildly optimistic to me, a supporter of dam removal but not one hoping to build my career on "the greatest dam removal project ever."



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