Sunday, March 29, 2009

Klamath Basin Crisis responds to KlamBlog's March 16th post

Editor's Note:

Klamath Basin Crisis is one of the organizations which share KlamBlog's concern about secret meetings and back room deals when the PUBLIC's rights, interests and resources are on the table. Here is KBC's reaction to our post on Keno Dam and reservoir.

We will not respond to KBC today; instead we will wait to see if any of you care to respond. This is exactly the sort of exchange we think needs to happen often and not behind closed doors. Only through an open, public process of dialogue over time can we hope to truly understand each others and to achieve common understandings.

Here's the KBC response:

Felice Pace is affiliated with Klamath Forest Alliance, and formerly with the Yurok Tribe. KFA helped get Klamath Riverkeeper on it's feet, a group spearheaded by Craig Tucker from Friends of the River, international dam removal activists. Tucker presently is spokesman for the Karuk tribe and KBRA/dam removal advocate.

In the fall of 1851, long before the Klamath Reclamation Project was built, George Gibbs accompanied an expedition of Colonel Redick McKee through the Klamath River and up the Scott River into Scott Valley. Gibbs was a graduate of Harvard University and traveled West, when the California Gold Rush was in progress. George Gibbs’ Journal of Redick McKee’s Expedition Through Northwestern California in 1851. Gibbs reported the Klamath River was of poor quality. In one entry, he said, “In camping on the Klamath, it is necessary to seek the neighborhood of the brooks, especially that this season; as the water, never pure, is now offensive from the number of dead salmon.”

Gail Whitsett earned her master’s in geology from Oregon State University and worked in oil exploration and development. Her studies showed that millions of tons of phosphorus-rich sediment at the bottom of Klamath Lake are actually derived from phosphorus- rich bedrock, naturally eroded from mountains surrounding the lake.

Her husband, a retired Klamath Basin veterinarian, Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett, said, “As cattle develop, they convert vegetative phosphorus into muscle and bone. Ranchers are being blamed for polluting the waters with phosphorus while the cattle above the lake are removing as much as 300 tons of phosphorus out of the Upper Klamath Basin each year. What they said the cattle were doing to the lake is impossible.”

The Department of the Interior organized a science workshop in Klamath Falls February 3, 2004:

One speaker was Dr. William Lewis Jr., University of Colorado, Chairman of the National Research Council Committee on Threatened and Endangered Fishes in the Klamath River Basin.

Lewis was asked about making more wetlands for suckers, and he responded that there are 17,000 acres of restoration already. He cautioned that we shouldn't put too much faith into wetlands regarding the suppression of algae. Someone tried to compare algae bloom in Lake Washington. Lewis said they got Lake Washington turned around by ceasing to pour 90% of the sewage into it. He added that we should not count on retiring agricultural land for saving suckers.

Jacob Kann, ecologist and scientist for Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust, insisted that timing and flows are related to the ph levels. Lewis responded that the water is always ph loaded, "the increase doesn't matter if it's always been saturated."

When asked if it would work to control the significant part of the ph load, Lewis responded that the lake is 140 square miles...that is not feasible to change. It is not like Lake Washington where they had sewage to cut off.
To date, more than 97,000 acres north of the Klamath Reclamation Project of agricultural land have been acquired by Government agencies and The Nature Conservancy with the stated goal of improving water quality and quantity, and storage. With evaporation of this shallow warm water, the water quantity available to the Klamath Lake has decreased, temperature has increased, and phosphorus level has increased.

So the nearly100,000 acres of relatively new wetlands has not helped water quality. So Mr Paces' 'solution' of acquiring more farmland will not work to help water quality. The gov't and environmental groups did that and everything got worse. Environmentalists seem to think the solution to growing fish and caretaking land is government is not working well here. Pace said the extensive marshes are almost gone. We have nearly 100,000 acres of extensive marshes. See our Refuge Pages.

Pace claims the water is "polluted agricultural wastewater." According to Ron Cole with Tulelake Fish and Wildlife Refuges, there is no smoking gun as far as agriculture harming wildlife. There have been dozens of studies with no ill-effect of our tightly controlled pesticides and fertilizers.

According to the California Waterfowl Association, the Klamath Basin farms provide over 50% of the feed for wildlife, the rest coming from natural sources. There are 200 million waterfowl use days here, totaling over 70 million tons of food required by these birds. That makes 70 million tons of goose poop, or maybe more since poop adds water. That's a lot of nitrogen. Would Pace like us to kill off the birds to decrease the nitrogen?

A study by the University of California Davis found that the naturally ph loaded water from the water's source had less minerals after it was filtered through the farms.

The proposed tools to "clean up" the water that was "ph loaded" and "saturated" from it's source, Pace recommends more wetlands and treatment plants, although National Academy of Science Dr William Lewis said this saturated water was always that way. These are coincidently the same proposals of the California State Water Resources Control Board to make our water pristine. Go HERE for the agenda of the Control Board in their Cal/EPA Environmental Justice Action Plan.

We do agree with Mr. Pace on a few things.

* Negotiations by the elite group of "stakeholders" in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement should not be in secret and without transparency and community input when our environment, communities, economies, fish and farms are at stake.

* Ripping out dams won't 'clean up' the water, especially since it is naturally saturated from it's source.

While we're on the subject, written KBRA secret and later disclosed agenda: "Jon Hicks from Rec has been approached with this question before .PC has been having discussions with Reclamation re Keno and Link River dam going forward towards an ultimate dam removal."

There are groups within the KBRA "stakeholders" who have written the California Water Board proposing the removal of Keno Dam.

According to a water district manager, "Keno Dam maintains the water level in Klamath River from Keno to and including Lake Ewauna. If Keno dam is removed the water level in Klamath River would drop and there would be no irrigation for water users in the Klamath River. Some of those irrigators are: All with land adjacent to the Klamath River, KDD, Fish and Wildlife Service and TID."

If you do not think Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers should be required to make their naturally saturated water pristine, water which historically was never pure, write the folks in the left column. Some might venture to believe that this "phosphorus-rich" bedrock and sediment were from time immemorial meant to be that way for a reason.

Around 1900, Link River, between Upper Klamath Lake and Lake Ewauna, occasionally went dry before the Klamath Project was built. There was no hydropower, no hatcheries, occasionally no fish (fish need water), no artificially-raised river flows or lake levels. The KBRA demands salmon and fish parasites/lamprey are introduced in phosphorus-rich, shallow, warm, historically algae-laden Klamath Lake. Could it be that salmon weren't intended to live in this murky lake? Because if they indeed lived there, we doubt the Indians would have eaten suckers for their sustenance rather than salmon.

1 comment:

david said...

I have many questions about this response, but here are the first ones: What did Gibbs study at Harvard? That seems somewhat relevant if we are to consider his opinion on biology and salmon. Also, wouldn't a large amount of dead fish in the river suggest that large numbers of live fish had made it at least that far before dying? What time of year did he observe this-if it was right after spawning, aren't many salmon going to die after the rigorous journey back from the ocean? The answers to these questions would go far to explain whether or not the quote really makes the point.