Sunday, February 28, 2010

Daniel Meyers on Glen Spain's post: "This is so much spin!"

Glen Spain has emerged as one of the most enthusiastic and energetic supporters of the Klamath Dam and Water Deals. Glen, a lawyer who represents the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) on Klamath River issues, was invited to publish his analysis of the deals on KlamBlog. His KlamBlog piece appeared on the Blog on November 16th.  

Daniel Meyers is the Water Committee Chair for the Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club. Daniel, who is a volunteer, has traveled extensively to participate in Shasta, Scott and Klamath TMDL development meetings and hearings as well as meetings about Klamath dams. Daniel has concentrated his analysis on the dam part of the Klamath Deals, the proposed Klamath Hyrdoelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).

Below you will find Glen Spain's KlamBlog post with Daniel Meyer's comments in red font inserted within Glen's text. Daniel's comments are his own and do not reflect the position of the Sierra Club which as of this date has not taken a position on the KBRA and KHSA.

NW Regional Director
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA)
(541)689-2000 Email to:

Reference to KlamBlog entry for 10/1/09

Though such mistakes in these complex issues are certainly understandable, the analysis of the KBRA and the new Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement (KHSA) outlined in the KlamBlog October 1, 2009 entry is both over-simplistic as well as incorrect, for a number of reasons. Hopefully this response will clarify the facts and help separate them from the myths as part of this healthy debate.

The facts are these:

(1) NEITHER THE KLAMATH HYDROPOWER SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (KHSA) NOR THE PARALLEL KLAMATH BASIN RESTORATION AGREEMENT “WAIVE” THE FEDERAL OR CALIFORNIA ESA TO ANY DEGREE. The only “waiver” of any provision of California wildlife laws that will be required to remove the Klamath Dams is a very limited one to allow dam removal (which will create sediment, which will harm some fish) that may adversely affect certain “fully protected species” from a short list codified in Cal. Fish & Game Code sections 3511 and 5515. These sections predate the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) and were largely replaced by CESA (except for this remaining list of species in sections 5515 and 3511) because they are a “zero tolerance” impacts policy. Those specific species from this statutory list which occur in the Klamath include: Lost River sucker, shortnose sucker, bald eagle, American peregrine falcon and golden eagle.

In other words, it would currently be LEGALLY IMPOSSIBLE to remove dams in the Klamath or anywhere else in California that “might” adversely affect any of these specifically named so-called “fully protected” species without a statutory waiver. There simply IS no CESA-like “incidental take” exemption available under Fish & Game Code section 3511, even when the small short-term harm is a necessary price for much greater long-term benefits, such as large-scale river restoration. CESA was adopted much later to remedy that problem, but the old statute was never actually repealed.

A placeholder statement that legislation will be introduced resolving these conflicts to allow dam removal appears in the KHSA Appendix G-3. A much older (and now superseded) statement of specific proposed bill language to resolve that conflict appears in the KBRA at Appendix A-3, but this KBRA language will probably disappear in the final version of the KBRA because it was: (a) overly complex and a bit too broad, and; (b) the issue is now better covered in the KHSA Appendix G-3 specifically as a dam removal issue. 

To keep Fish & Game Code Secs. 3511 and 5515 on the books, according to Fish and Game, legally blocks the Department’s ability to do many forms of watershed restoration, not to mention dam removals, all over the state – wherever any of these so-called “fully protected” species are present. Since these species are already covered under the far more inclusive as well as more flexible modern CESA process, these old statutes, they argue, are now obsolete. 
CESA and the federal ESA would still apply regardless, and cannot be changed by a mere contractual agreement in any event. The specific exemption would also only apply to dam removal impacts – not to irrigation or other farming activities, to which the regular CESA and ESA would still always apply.

(2) THERE ARE NO CONCEIVABLE SCENARIOS IN WHICH PACIFICORP SHAREHOLDERS (AS OPPOSED TO ITS CUSTOMERS) WILL BE EXPECTED TO SHOULDER COSTS OF EITHER FERC RELICENSING OR DAM REMOVAL. Public utilities are nothing more state-regulated pass-through organizations. All their costs and operational expenses, whether for power facilities building, relicensing or demolition, are always simply passed through the company to be divided up among its ratepayer-customers. The only restriction on the Company’s ability to pass these costs through is that those costs must be “prudently incurred” (as determined by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in an appropriate rate setting case) in the course of the utilities’ business. Neither Warren Buffett nor any of the Company’s other shareholders would be ever required to shoulder prudently incurred costs by FERC or otherwise. Utilities just do not work that way.

Under a FERC process PacifiCorp would bare all the costs of removal and  might be able to recover some or all of them over a long period of time if justifiable cost and not previously accrued under their rate structure. In this case they do not put out any funds---it is a very large difference in cash flow. 

If  Glenn's position is correct, why aren't all the costs passed through to the rate payers. Instead  more than half the funding is to be provided by a California Bond Fund. Perhaps more importantly they are avoiding liability of dam removal in addition which may not be a cost they could recover from rate payers. All of the expense and risk of PacifiCorp has been  "bargained" away for others to pay.

In the presentation of Glenn and Trout Unlimited the other day, TU took the position that they didn't care very much who pays as long as they get the deal. I would agree with that only if we were to receive equivalent tangible benefits in return is a wonderful deal but only for PacifiCorp.

(3) THE TEN (10) YEAR TIME FRAME FOR KLAMATH DAM REMOVAL IS BOTH REASONABLE AND NECESSARY. It can take a long time to tear down a dam right. The other major PacifiCorp dam involved in a removal settlement agreement, Condit Dam, will also take about 10 years to remove if (as currently scheduled) it comes down in 2010. The recently removed Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River took something like 18 years to remove. 

There is no ten year time frame for dam removal. There is a prohibition of ten years preventing dam removal. The agreement is very clear that dam removal is to be started and completed in 2020 in just those  twelve months. The ten year delay and the one year to take the dams indefensible.

There are many studies still to be done on how to engineer the removal, minimize fish damage and sediment, and avoid other environmental problems. There is almost certainly going to be litigation to resolve, and additionally the Klamath Trust Fund ratepayer funding for dam removal will not be all there until 2020 at the modest ~$1.50/month rate increase it was possible (barely) to pass into law in Oregon (SB 76). There simply is not enough time to have the $200 million required by SB 76 before 2020, nor enough time before then to accomplish all the other myriad of details that such an undertaking will require.

None of these points justify PacifiCorp's ten year absolute control  and ability to terminate the agreement. If the project has the funding on the March 2012 date PacifiCorp has the benefits of free funding and limitation from liability the project should proceed free of PacifiCorp's  control on a much shorter time frame subject to adjustment for contingencies Glenn has raised.

In fact, 2020 seems optimistic to many. Fortunately, however, numerous dam removal studies have already been done, and many more are in the pipeline right now, as part of the FERC process and in anticipation of an extensive NEPA-CEQA process. This has given us several years head start on meeting the 2020 deadline.

(4) THE REGULAR FERC PROCESS WOULD LIKELY NOT GET DAMS DOWN ANY SOONER – AND PERHAPS NOT AT ALL. FERC has never, during its entire history, unilaterally ordered a dam down against the wishes of a relicensing Applicant. The only arguable exception of the Edwards Dam in Maine -- which ultimately also resulted in a negotiated settlement -- still only gives you odds of such a FERC action at about 1/2 of 1 percent of all dam relicensing cases to come before FERC in the last 20 years. These are not good odds for getting FERC to unilaterally order dams down in the Klamath without the Company’s consent. 

This is why this must be resolved during the current administration. PacifiCorp has insisted on this schedule that precludes any dam removal in an Obama administration. It would not be cynical to think PacifiCorp's motives are to avoid dam removal , it would naive to think otherwise.

In order to get the dams decommissioned through the regular FERC process by other means, first you have to win the Clean Water Act 401 Certification fights in BOTH CA and OR, with both states firmly saying no (or making conditions PacifiCorp cannot live with). Then you have to win ALL the legal appeals, without exception, all the way through the state court system, then once again thorough the federal system on preemption and related issues, and finally to the US Supreme Court -- and this could easily be 7-8 years of litigation right there. And THEN, all PacifiCorp has to do to start the whole process over again would be to withdraw the original Application for 401 Certification and resubmit a new and slightly modified Application -- giving them one more year to obtain State 401 Certification administratively each time they do so, followed perhaps by more years of litigation, on and on well past 2020 and maybe past 2030.

This is so much spin. The dams have a spot light on them that a FERC process could not ignore. The dams have been under review of FERC and the California Energy Commission for several years who found that relicencing would be the highest risk to  the ratepayers. Even Glenn's worst case scenario for FERC is still better than the KHSA. 

He acknowledged they are “aware of the Hydro Agreement's (KHSA) uncertainties and contingencies.  And it indeed may not work -- causing us to have to ultimately revert to the rather unsatisfactory FERC track…”   It is illogical to start down a long and uncertain path only to return to another more certain venue where time is critical.

And all this time, absent the KHSA, PacifiCorp does not have to do any "interim measures" of any sort, because they get an automatic annual status quo renewal of the current license. FERC has always been upheld on this in every past legal challenge of such rubber-stamp existing annual license extensions.

And, of course, without any sort of negotiated settlement you get no water reforms in the process as provided for in the KBRA. You might also wind up with at least one dam (J.C. Boyles, in Oregon) in the end, with a few patched-up fish passage measures. Oregon’s case against state 401 Certification for J.C. Boyle is much weaker than the case in California where most of the Clean Water Act problems within the reservoirs exist. J.C. Boyle Dam is also by far the most valuable part of the Hydro Project to PacifiCorp for power production.

By tying the two agreements together it provide Pacificorp with complete control.  We were advised that it was a risk the signatories were willing to take.

At least with a negotiated FERC settlement you know what you are getting – all four dams down by 2020. Without such a settlement, facing many years of litigation and disputed hearings before FERC, you would not know with any certainty in advance that the dams will in fact be removed. 

This technique is called transferrence.

(5) FINALLY, THE “NEW SPENDING” IN THE KLAMATH CONTEMPLATED BY THE KBRA IS NOT “$500 MILLION” ALL IN ONE CHUNK AS IMPLIED, BUT OVER A PERIOD OF 10 FULL YEARS – THAT IS, ONLY ABOUT $50 MILLION/YEAR. This is not very much money by Congressional standards, but will do a great deal of good – and help the Klamath Basin avoid expensive future conflicts. 

We are told that an obligation of a private profit oriented company is now to be paid by Callifornia tax payers and the electrical consummers, that it will go on for ten years without any dam removal but its a good thing because it is only $50,000,000.00 per year.

There is always competition for funding in Congress these days, but this problem is endemic to all federal funding programs, not just to the Klamath’s. To maximize the odds of full funding, however, requires Congressional authorization for at least that 10-year amount. Authorized programs always have first budget priority over ad hoc needs. So potential funding problems are an argument FOR Congressional authorization of the KBRA, not against it.
Fortunately, dam removal itself will be paid from non-federal funds ($200 million from PacifiCorp rate surcharges, and up to $250 more from future California bond funding) and so requires no Congressional funding. However, taking the dam removal decision entirely out of FERC’s hands does require Congressional approval – which is why this is provided for in the KHSA.

Hopefully the above helps to shed more light on these complex issues as groups analyze the Agreement in more detail. The KHSA documents are available at by following the Klamath link. KBRA References above are to the May 6, 2009 Draft KBRA available at: .
People should read these documents and think through these issues for themselves. These decision are too important to leave to speculation and rumor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dueling Klamath presentations on tap at E-Law Conference

The Environmental Law Conference which will take place from February 25th through February 28th at the University of Oregon in Eugene is arguably the West Coast's premier annual environmental event. Environmental activists and lawyers from throughout the region and around the world apply or are recruited to offer presentations which focus on major global and regional environmental issues as well as strategies and actions (especially lawsuits) to address those issues. Therefore it comes as no surprise that both "sides" in the developing Klamath Debate will be making presentations. Here are the descriptions of Klamath-related sessions from the conference brochure:

 On Friday Morning ~

Klamath Basin: Dam Removal and Basinwide Restoration
      This panel, including long-time grassroots and tribal communities,
will address the challenges and opportunities for basinwide restoration
in the 10 million acre Klamath Basin. From National Wildlife
refuges to tribal water rights, panelists will express their concerns
regarding existing Klamath settlement negotiations and agreements,
address controversies, and offer a more prudent path toward realistic
restoration and Klamath dam removal.
     Bob Hunter, Staff Attorney, WaterWatch of Oregon
     Scott Graecen, Executive Director, Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC)
     Alexandra Borack, Conservation Advocate, Friends of the River
     Allie Hostler, Communications Coordinator, Hoopa Valley Tribe Fisheries Department

And On Saturday Morning ~

The Klamath Settlement: Why It Makes Sense
      The Klamath River was once home to the nation’s third largest salmon runs, fish which still feed many Native American peoples andcoastal communities.  The two recently approved Klamath Basin Settlement Agreements present an exceptional opportunity to favorably resolve some of the most contentious water conflicts in the West, as well as take down four obsolete hydropower dams in order to restore depressed salmon runs back to the Klamath. This Klamath stakeholder panel will discuss why those Agreements deserve support.
     Troy Fletcher, Tribal Member, Yurok Tribe of California
     Mike Bechick, Senior Fisheries Biologist, Yurok Tribe Natural Resources Department
     Chuck Bonham, California State Director, Trout Unlimited
     Frankie Joe Meyer, Yurok Tribal Elder
     Glen Spain, NW Regional Director and General Counsel, PCFFA

It is a sign of the times that those who once articulated a single vision for Klamath river, marsh  and refuge restoration at this very conference now present separately. The two groups of presenters have very different visions for the Klamath River Basin. Those radically different visions are the central triumph of the Bush Administration’s Klamath policy. Bush’s Interior Department used the promise of dam removal to shatter the coalition of Klamath River Basin tribes, environmentalists and fishermen and to defeat the water reform program that coalition once shared.  Obama’s Interior Department has continued in the same vein. It remains to be seen whether the Obama White House and Congress will continue down this road.

These two presentations will give those who attend them a preview of arguments which soon will be taking place in Washington, DC.

This weekend’s E-Law Conference in Eugene has a wealth of other workshops and presentations. Here are a few KlamBlog finds particularly interesting ~

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Public support for Klamath Deals wanes as the political show kicks off in Portland

As this KlamBlog is posted a big media show is about to begin in Portland Oregon. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar will be joined by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the President of PacifiCorp and a bevy of tribal, fishing and irrigation officials along with assorted politicians.  There will no doubt be plenty of fawning.

The dominant message of this media show is that an unprecedented and historic agreement has brought together adversaries and will usher in a new era of collaboration and compromise in order to save Klamath Salmon, promote agricultural stability and benefit just about everyone. It is unknown whether actual apple pie will or will not be served at the event.

We know that “Peace on the River” will be the message because that message has been repeated ad museum over the last two years. We also know that will be the message because that is the best way to provide cover for what is at its core a sweetheart deal for Warren Buffet, his PacifiCorp co-shareholders and a small group of privileged and politically connected irrigators, a golf and country club and other non-agricultural water users who get water via the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project.

As was revealed not too long ago by Jeff Barnard of the Associated Press, the Deal was actually cut in West Virginia and just by the big four - Salazar, Kulongoski,. Schwarzenegger and PacifiCorp/Buffett. The other folks are in Portland essentially as window dressing. Their pronouncements will not be news - but they will be reported as news.

The real news these days is that more and more individuals and organizations are coming to the conclusion that the Deals (the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement) are not in the interest of Klamath Salmon, Klamath Wildlife Refuges and Klamath River Communities. The more folks learn the details, the more they conclude that implementation of these Deals will not only not lead to restoration of the Klamath River but actually may preclude real river restoration.

These conclusions are being reached not only by groups that were locked out of the “confidential” negotiations which led to the Deals but lately by several of the organizations which were involved in the deal making beginning to end  -or nearly so. First to break with the pack was the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) . recently joined by the Hoopa Tribe and Friends of the River. There is also rumor that another locally-based organization which participated in negotiations beginning to end – the Ashland-based National Center for Conservation Science & Policy – will not sign the Deals – although this is not evident by perusing their web site
The NEC has also joined with Oregon Wild, Water Watch, Friends of Del Norte and other conservation groups to form a new coalition – Klamath Conservation Partners – which is working for a dam removal deal that is certain, soon and unburdened by the controversial and costly Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).

Water Watch and Oregon Wild were kicked out of Klamath negotiations because they would not agree to continuation of commercial farming on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges. These are the only federal wildlife refuges in the country that allow commercial agriculture. Commercial agriculture on the Klamath Refuges does not maximize wildlife benefits.

But disillusionment with the Klamath Deals is not coming just from tribes, fishermen and conservation organizations. Recent letters to the editor and comments on Klamath news reports in local and regional newspaper web sites indicates that and increasing number of everyday people – both within the Klamath Basin and beyond – are coming to the conclusion that Deals which sound too good to be true are indeed not what was promised and what is being advertised.  Below this report is reprinted one such commentary which appeared recently in the Capital Press regional agriculture weekly.

While disillusionment grows among the people, politicians appear headed in the opposite direction. North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson, for example, is believed to be interested in sponsoring legislation for the deal makers. California Senator Diane Feinstein also is reportedly interested in sponsoring the federal legislation needed to seal the Deals - Feinstein has a history of supporting Big Ag in water disputes. And recently Oregon’s newest senator – Jeff Markley – has declared his support. KlamBlog would not be surprised if one or another of these politicians turns up on the podium in Portland today.

Meanwhile the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded an $843,000 contract under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the Research Triangle Institute of North Carolina. The contract is for scientific investigations “to evaluate the economic potential for advancing fisheries restoration by removing four dams, and whether it is in the public interest to do so.”

While the BOR has spurned local and regional firms that could have done this work, the hiring of a major environmental study contractor does indicate that the Department or Interior is eager to see these Deals come to fruition. This should not be surprising since the Deals not only serve the interest of the rich and well connected but also put the BOR - and those to whom it supplies Klamath River water - into the driver’s seat when it comes to the future of Klamath River water. 

Once the noise from Portland has died down, the focus of Klamath River politics will shift to Washington DC. The Klamath Deals – which seek to burden taxpayers and electricity customers with the full cost of dam and powerhouse removal – appear to conflict with President Obama’s plan to freeze discretionary federal spending - except for the war machine. Whether the Klamath Deals can overcome this newest hurdle and others it will face in Washington DC remains to be seen.

KlamBlog will be there reporting what others do not dare to report; stay tuned.

Klamath agreement fails to meet needs of American people

For the Capital Press

The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement has something for everyone to dislike. From the dynamics of dam removal to the development of an unelected bureaucracy positioned to manipulate and manage our natural resources, it contains issues certain to upset anyone from Miller Lake to the mouth of the Klamath River.

The KBRA was created by a huge bureaucracy without fair and equitable representation. It charts a direction that intentionally limits the choices of our communities and governments. It is full of deception and is packed with unfunded mandates that will lead to conflict. It is not a program of self-determination for water, power and regulatory assurances. The communities that the agreement was alleged to embrace have been left hopeless and vulnerable. The proponents of the KBRA appear to be either part of the deception or victims of the process.

The KBRA leaves very important Klamath Basin issues unsettled. The agreement is not based on current legal authority, but rather on a complex web of administration that must rely upon new legal authority that has not yet been legislated.

A true water settlement must be founded on the Klamath River Adjudication. The adjudication process has been upheld by both the Oregon and the U.S. Supreme Courts. Our communities cannot move ahead with a legally binding direction for our future until the basis of water allocation has been established by law. Our state and county governments must assume the leadership role in charting this direction. They can lead us toward true self-determination and away from the growth of federal agencies and bureaucracies.

The KBRA is dependent on $1 billion of unappropriated federal funding. This proposal is a major federal action in need of a reality check. The only money now on the table is provided by PacifiCorp ratepayers in Oregon for dam removal that is not included in the billion-dollar price tag. We should not expect those dollars to come from the federal coffers, with our national treasury in the weakest shape in memory.

Moreover, redirecting funds from existing budgets is equally problematic. Imagine the outrage when existing USDA programs in Madras, Medford, Arizona or Iowa lose funding to this new project. More likely to occur is a marginalized budget that will funnel funds to the most influential parties of the KBRA. This will further divide our communities.

Today we have the final KBRA document in hand to examine. We are told we must sign on before Feb. 9. This date appears to be determined by potential photo-opportunity dates for officials. However, the federal parties to the agreement will not sign on until after legislation is passed.

The question is "do we sign on to such an ill-conceived direction and trust the bureaucrats? There are at least three good reasons not to sign at this time.

First, the required legislation may transform the KBRA into a process that we do not recognize.

Second, the KBRA may be transformed by the imminent Oregon and EPA release of the total maximum daily loads for the Klamath and Lost rivers. These documents may castrate our communities' abilities to address priorities in our watersheds.

Third, and most importantly, as our water year shapes itself, the Bureau of Reclamation has shown its inability to manage water storage. There is discussion of a zero allocation of water for irrigation from the Klamath River this year. Remember 1991 and 2009 when irrigation was terminated from the Lost River? Remember 2001 when irrigation was terminated from the Klamath River? If the bureau has failed to manage for irrigation from Klamath Lake this year, why would we expect it to care for our irrigation communities in any year?
Frankly, I do not trust our federal agencies. Every party at the KBRA table has been mistreated by the federal agencies. True stakeholders have been ignored, discredited and turned away. It makes no sense to get further in bed with the same agencies that terminated the tribes, terminated irrigation and terminated natural resource management in the Klamath Basin.

This is the time for our communities to join together to move the inept federal agencies out of our basin and embrace each other with hope and vision and true self-determination.

Should we sign the KBRA at this time? The answers are no and hell no!

Bill Kennedy is a natural resource producer in Klamath County, both on and off project. The private lands he manages and irrigates have been dedicated wildlife refuges since 1975.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

BuRec's Non-Agricultural Klamath Water Users - Where's the Obama "tansparency"?

In our last post we asked whether a golf course is more important than salmon and went on to point out some of the non-irrigation, non-agricultural “customers” of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project. These non-agricultural water users will get water ahead of salmon IF the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) is locked-in via federal legislation.

Here are more photos showing a few of these non-agricultural users of Klamath River Water ~

Reams Golf and Country Club one of BuRec's Klamath Project "customers"

Hi-tech Collins Particle Board Plant along Route 66 near Klamath Falls.
This new development gets water before salmon under the KBRA!

The Modoc Lumber site in Klamath Falls has already been "redeveloped". 
New owners get rights to Klamath water ahead of salmon under the KBRA!

The Bureau of Reclamation needs to come clean with just how many of its water customers are non-agricultural and how much Klamath River water it diverts to serve these non-agriculture users. Obama’s Interior appointees - like Klamath lead and Deputy Interior Secretary Laura Davis - need to make this happen. After all, isn’t this the Administration that promised us “transparency”?

If BuRec or the Obama folks won’t come clean, then Mike Thompson and other Klamath River champions in Congress should demand the information when they consider Klamath legislation. The public needs to know who will get Klamath water ahead of salmon if Congress endorses the KBRA.

Supplying Klamath River water to non-agricultural users is no problem, of course, if there is enough water for salmon, Klamath Basin Agriculture and these other uses. KBRA promoters say there is plenty of water now and will be more later if Congress puts them in charge. Some of them even claim that salmon will get more water under the KBRA than they currently get via the Endangered Species Act. Others dispute that assertion. BuRec should also come clean with the actual data - how much water has BuRec diverted to its Klamath Project "customers" in each year that the present biolgiocal opinion for Coho Salmopn has been in place?

Our interest in this question - and our concern about Klamath River flows if the KBRA is enshrined in federal legislation - recently escalated when - through study of the exceedingly complex and dense KBRA- we learned that the situation is even worse than we realized. Here is the KBRA provision that has raised our level of alarm:

KBRA section 15.1.1 (Public Review Draft, Page 52)

This Agreement provides for limitations on specific diversions for the Klamath Reclamation Project,  as described in this Section 15.1.1 and as provided in Appendix E-1. The limitations are intended, particularly in drier years, to increase water availability for Fisheries purposes, while Section 15.1.2 provides terms for the allocation and delivery of water to National Wildlife Refuges. Section 15.2 establishes the program by which KWAPA will address the limitations on diversions. The DIVERSION quantity as specified in Appendix E-1 for the irrigation season will increase by 10,000 acre-feet in some years effective March 1 after the earlier of: (i) the physical removal of all or part of each of the Hydroelectric Facilities has occurred and achieved a free-flowing condition and volitional fish passage; (ii) 10,000 acre-feet of new storage has been developed under Section 18.3; or (iii) the KBCC, on or after February 1, 2020 and after receipt of recommendations from the TAT, determines the increase is appropriate.

Careful reading of the portion in bold font makes it clear that – whether or not the optimistic hope of KBRA promoters for more water storage and “environmental water” are realized and whether or not the dams come down – BuRec and its “customers” will get 10,000 additional acre feet more water to do with as they please before salmon get one additional drop. All that will be needed is agreement of the “KBCC” – the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council – a KBRA creation that puts those who sign the Deal in charge of Klamath Water Management and which consequently disenfranchises all other stakeholders.

KlamBlog has a question in this regard for those who claim that the KBRA proposed river flows and water allocations are based on (good) science. Where is the science to back up reducing flows in the river by 10,000 acre feet when the dams come out? KlamBlog is particularly directing this question to employees of the US Fish & Wildlife Service who have been using their positions to promote the KBRA – including making presentations which claim the KBRA has a solid foundation in science. How about it gentlemen? SHOW US THE SCIENCE!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Is a golf course more important than salmon? – KBRA gives Non-Ag entities water priority over fish.

At the end of the massive and complex Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) Public Review Draft (Appendix F) there is a list and contact information for the official representatives of the “parties” - The “parties” are the organizations which are expected to sign the KBRA, possibly as early as mid-February.

KlamBlog became curious because several of the parties listed as “Related to the Klamath Reclamation Project” are obviously not farms or ranches…they are not even related to agriculture. So we took a closer look. Here’s what we found:
  • One of the non-ag, non-irrigator parties is Collins Products LLC which operates a state-of-the-art particle board mill along Highway 66 near Klamath Falls.  Collins is noted as a producer of FSC certified sustainable wood products; the company has a certified forest in nearby Lakewood. It is likely that a first-in-line water rights would be a valuable asset which the company could lease to the highest bidder or use to produce particle board. 
  • Modoc Lumber Company operated a lumber mill on the shores of Lake Ewana in Klamath Falls. That mill closed down some years back and the equipment was sold off. The mill site is listed as for sale and is considered prime development property. A first right to water cemented in federal legislation would increased the value of the property. The property – which is adjacent to the Klamath Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant - contains about 120 acres and is listed by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality as a brownfield. Here’s a link to a photo of the site.
  • Reams  Golf and Country Club is located along Lake Ewana (Keno Reservoir) just South of Klamath Falls. It is an 18-hole course with a large clubhouse which it rents out for banquets.  Here’s how it describes itself on its website “Reames Golf and Country Club is a beautiful eighteen hole facility situated on over  200 acres just outside of the city limits  of Klamath Falls, Oregon, The City of Sunshine." And here's a photo image:

  • The Winema Hunting Lodge is a favorite for those who like to shoot ducks on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges. It is open to the general public; they even let birdwatchers stay there!. Here’s what it looks like:  

Contact information for these four “parties” as listed in the KBRA can be found at the end of this post. The information is provided in order to make it easier for journalists and interested citizens to investigate the extent of non-agricultural water use within the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Reclamation Project.  How much of the 300,000 to 400,000 acre feet of water that would be guaranteed to irrigators if the Deal gets through Congress is actually used to grow food? The public deserves to know; journalists covering the Klamath should do the investigation and disclose the results.

If the KBRA is enshrined in federal legislation these non-agricultural enterprises - a lumber mill, brownfield, golf course and hunting lodge - will get water BEFORE salmon. It means these developments will be among the last ones agencies, tribes, fishing and environmental organizations which sign the KBRA will be able to go to if fish need more water to prevent extinction….that is unless they bring cash to lease that water.

It is likely that there are many more non-irrigation entities which will receive water ahead of salmon if the KBRA is enshrined in federal legislation. For example, among dozens of irrigation districts listed as KBRA “parties” is the Enterprise Irrigation District (EID) which is located adjacent to the City of Klamath Falls. The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) describes this district as serving "suburban customers in the Klamath Falls area." As that city has expanded, the Enterprise Irrigation District has become home to housing developments and shopping centers. KWUA documents also reveal that Klamath Community College, founded in 1996, is one of EID's "suburban" customers. It is likely that Klamath River water received by the community college is uses primarily to keep its lawns green in the high dessert of Eastern Oregon.

How many of those non-agricultural developments will receive water ahead of salmon if the KBRA become the law of the land? That information is not readily available and so far no one in the press or the environmental community has pushed the Bureau of Reclamation to come clean with the answer.

But one thing you can count on: if legislation is introduced into Congress to lock in the KBRA’s water allocation scheme, expect to see large blow-up photos of these non-agricultural developments displayed in Congress. Promoters will attempt to sell the KBRA as a way to secure a peaceful future for farms and fish; blow up photos of the golf course, lumber mill, hunting lodge, brownfield, suburban housing and shopping developments will be used to discredit that argument.


Non-Agricultural Parties listed in the KBRA as “Related to Klamath Reclamation Project”

Collins Products, LLC:
Steve Metz
P.O. Box 16
6410 Hwy 66
Klamath Falls, OR,
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
Tel: (541) 885-4850

Modoc Lumber Company:
Thomas M. Shaw
P.O. Box 257
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
Tel: (541) 884-3177

Reames Golf and Country Club:
Laine Wortman, General Manager
4201 Highway 97 South
Klamath Falls, OR 97603
Tel: (541) 884-7205

Winema Hunting Lodge, Inc.:
R. David Bolls, III
43445 Business Park Drive, Suite 103
Temecula, CA 92590
Tel: (951) 699-6991 ext. 450