Monday, August 4, 2008

Siskiyou Supervisors' DC Trip misguided and wasteful

The Siskiyou Daily News and Mt. Shasta Herald recently reported on a trip to Washington DC by Siskiyou County Supervisors Jim Cook and Michael Kobseff. According to the report, authored by former Siskiyou Daily News publisher Dale Andreasen, the purpose of the trip was to “hold discussion with the staffs of US Senators and members of the House of Representatives” in order to “make their case for keeping the dams.”

It is difficult to imagine what this trip could possibly accomplish. Congress plays no role in whether or not the dams will be relicensed or removed. PacifiCorp owns the dams and if the company decides it is in its shareholders’ interest to remove them there is nothing that Congress can do to prevent them from doing just that. Furthermore, even if PacifiCorp decides to continue the quest to have the dams relicensed, it is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and State Water Resources Control Board which must approve the license – not Congress.

Seen in light of these facts, the Cook-Kobseff DC trip looks like little more than political posturing at the expense of Siskiyou taxpayers. Since these two supervisors constantly complain about lack of funds, one wonders how they can justify a trip which appears geared to their own political careers and not to the interests of Siskiyou County citizens.

Because PacifiCorp’s Klamath dams and powerhouses are old and obsolete – and because it is unlikely the dams can legally be certified as complying with water quality standards - KlamBlog believes PacifiCorp has decided to get rid of the dams. If we are correct, the only questions now are: Who will pay for their removal and what else will be included in dam removal financing legislation. Under these circumstances Siskiyou County supervisors should be working to get something into the deal that benefit Siskiyou County residents rather than posturing against dam removal.

What might that “something of benefit to Siskiyou County residents” be?

When Dwinnell Dam and Reservoir (aka Lake Shastina) was built in 1928 an alternative considered was supplying irrigation water to the farms and ranches around Montague with water from the Klamath River. The reasons that alternative was not pursued is shrouded in the mists of time. What we do know, however, is that Dwinnell/Lake Shastina has not provided consistent irrigation water deliveries to Montague Area farms and ranches. In many years a full irrigation season is not provided because not enough water enters the dam; this year is a good example. Dwinnell also is plagued with water quality and human health problems – including mercury contaminated fish and toxic algae.

If the Siskiyou Supervisors were on the ball they could negotiate a change in point of diversion for the Montague Water Conservation District from Dwinnell to the Klamath River as part of a dam removal deal. This would help Shasta Valley Agriculture and clear the way for removal of Dwinnell Dam – an action which could help struggling salmon runs more than removal of the Klamath Dams.

Such a move would indicate a Board of Supervisors in Siskiyou County which understands politics and knows how to play the political game in a manner that advances the interests of its citizens and key industries. The Siskiyou Supervisors, however, show no indication that they possess the political interest and skills necessary to achieve such a result. Instead Jim Cook, Michael Kobseff, Bill Overman, Marcia Armstrong and Lavada Erickson appear content to sing to the choir by posturing against dam removal.

Siskiyou voters should show these supervisors that political posturing is no substitute for real work in service to the county, its citizens and their interests. The best way to do that would be for the citizens to vote them out of office the next time they are on the ballot.


Anonymous said...

Felice, We have read your opinions often on the dam removal issues, and yet to hear anything about the side that wants to save the dams. We live on Iron Gate Lake and Copco Lake and have done our research, have taken opinion polls from more than 500 lake users, river users, residents of Southern Oregon and Siskiyou County, not one was for removal of the four dams. We have reopened investigations on the salmon kill proving that the dams and the water were not the problem, it took 7 days for the water or fish to be tested, they were bleeding and blistered, there is proff of a meth lab dump into the river and yet no one seems to listen, they listen to the Envirmentalists and Indians tho. Seems that it is only political and what they can gain money wise and not at all about the salmon and the river. You should come on down river, meet a few or more of the wonderful residents of Siskiyou County and of the river and lakes that you are so eager to have gone. Does it not matter at all to anyone that the river will be affected for years? There are other ways to solve the Salmon issue without removal of the dams. Please lay off our supervisors and their trip to DC, we are glad they are on our side and trying to stop the removal, it will be a big mistake.

The Trout Underground said...

Here's a county resident that wants to the see the dams removed - and that based on the merits of removal.

How marvelously self-selecting your "poll" must have been.

Could you provide any evidence of "proff" that the salmon kill wasn't the result of high water temperatures and crowding - outside of wishful thinking?

Meanwhile, real scientists were pretty clear about the causes of the largest adult salmon kill in modern times, and it was high water temps caused by inadequate flows.

As for "other" ways to solve the salmon issue, billions have spent, and the salmon are in worse shape than ever.

If you wish to tar all those seeking to restore the rivers with an "it's only political" brush, then feel free, but personal attacks don't stand long in the face of so much science.

The accepted science - and every bit of evidence - suggests the Klamath River is sick - and it's the dams that are causing it.

The scare tactics employed by the likes of Marcia Armstrong and Board of Supervisors that have mis-managed this county into yet another economic mess are deplorable. And yes, they've been largely debunked, sometime on the pages of this blog.

The county - and most of its citizens - will benefit economically from dam removal, and it's time for it to happen.

blankcortex said...

I remember 5 or 6 years ago when they drained the reservoir all the way to the bottom, the smell behind my house was HORRIBLE. and I never understood why until now. this is a desecration to the earth and I am ashamed to be a part of humanity that built something so disgusting and blatantly disgraceful to the earth...

I hope something is truly done to get rid of this cesspool of a reservoir....