Saturday, January 19, 2008

Reactions to proposed Klamath Water and Restoration Deal

Reactions - from inside and outside the basin - are beginning to come in. Here's a taste of what's being said (note: if the links are not active try copying the url and pasting it into your web browser).

Support Settlement, letter to KBC from Marshall Staunton This link - - is a plea for support of the Proposal from Marshall Staunton - a son in one of the Irrigation Elite's leading farm operations (and, incidentally, a very nice person) and.....

.....Here's a response from another Upper Basin farmer:Rancher/farmer response to Marshall Staunton's settlement comments This link is:

By the way, these links are to the Klamath Basin Crisis web site. While KlamBlog does not agree with most positions which KBC takes, we do agree with them that a more open, transparent and democratic process would better serve the People of the Klamath River Basin - especially when the topic is creating the future our kids are going to live with.

There have, of course, been a ton of press stories and responses. One of the most interesting so far is an editorial from the Oregonian. You can read it at

Four reporters who have written on Klamath happenings for a while and who seem to have the best grasp of the issues filed reports on the Proposal's release. They are ......

..... Jeff Barnard of the Associated Press. Read his report at:

..... David Whitney of the Sacramento Bee. Read his report at:

..... Eric Bailey of the LA Times. Read his report at:,1,6366227.story

..... John Driscoll of the Eureka Times-Standard. read his report at:

While each of these reporters discusses the high cost of keeping the dams, none of them mention a key component of that cost - the cost of meeting water quality standards, a step necessary to secure a license to operate the dams even if FERC otherwise approves it. In order to meet the 401 certification (so called because of the section of the Clean Water Act in which it is found), PacifiCorp would at minimum need to put a full water treatment plant at Iron Gate. They would also be required to meet water quality standards in the reservoirs for the four dams. These costs would likely dwarf the $125 million cost to build the fish ladders which the National Marine Fisheries Service says are needed to comply with fisheries laws.

Furthermore, the Hoopa Tribe has the right to enforce water quality law on the Klamath River because - unlike other Klamath River Basin tribes - it has worked with the federal EPA to gain the status of a state for purposes of the Clean Water Act. The Yurok Tribe was once on that same path but put that on hold over two years ago while it was negotiating with the Simpson Timber Company (now calling itself "Green Diamond Resources") which owns most of the Yurok's Lower Klamath River reservation.

Water quality and water quality law have been mysteriously missing from the Negotiations and for the most part, they are not addressed in the Proposal. Yet water quality is arguably even more important than flow to Klamath River salmon. Both the massive 2002 adult fish kill and annual heavy mortality of juvenile salmon in the Klamath River are primarily related to horrible water quality. The Lost River Sub-basin - which will become an environmental sacrifice zone if the Proposal is enacted as currently written - is one of the Basin's top producers of Klamath River Basin pollution because it is used to drain the Klamath Project's heavily polluted agricultural waste water. The Klamath Straits, which is used by the Bureau of Reclamation to convey this waste water to the Klamath River is sometimes so polluted that the discharge becomes pure ammonia - a chemical directly toxic to fish and other aquatic life. At times in summer the Klamath Straits constitutes as much as 25% of the water flowing out of the Upper Basin.


Have you read KlamBlog's analysis of the Prposal which was yesterdays post (see it below)? If it is too long for your taste try a shorter review by Bob Hunter of Oregon's Water Watch. You can read that on oregon Wild's web site at:

Bob Hunter is a water lawyer and one of the most knowledgeable persons anywhere concerning water and fish issues in the Upper Klamath River Basin. But in his short analysis he does not get into alternative approaches (a feature of KlamBlog's analysis which you really should check out!). While the Proposal is not the solution to the Klamath's many problems, such a solution is needed and will require federal legislation - hopefully under a new administration that is fish friendly. KlamBlog believes those leaders who care about the Klamath should use the current opportunity to move forward on a more equitable, scientifically sound and durable solution. For our political leaders to do that they will need to see not only opposition but also alternatives.

By the way, the full Proposal, an "official" summary, and the press release issued with it are available at This appears to be the web site of Ed Sheete, the "facilitator" who lead development of the Proposal. Information we have is that this 'facilitator" was paid by the Bush Interior Department whose current main representative on Klamath issues - Steve Thompson of the US Fish and Wildlife Service- nevertheless continues to claim that they did not direct or lead development of the Proposal.

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