Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Learn about Klamath Dam Removal Studies in Orleans on June 15th

The federal government is well along the way to completing studies and assessments which will inform the Secretary of Interior's decision on whether or not removal of four PacifiCorp dams and transfer of a fifth dam to the federal government would be in the public interest.  An affirmative finding is necessary in order for the federal government to justify implementing an alternative to the normal, legally prescribed method for hydroelectric project decommissioning which is via the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - FERC. The alternative method being considered is the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) which - among other things - would:
  • Remove PacifiCorp from liability for toxic legacies that have accumulated over 100 years of industrial power generation on the Klamath River,
  • Tie dam removal to the costly and controversial KBRA Water Deal. 
The KHSA is one path to dam removal - a path which many but not all Basin interests supporting dam removal think is the best path.  In KlamBlog's opinion, now that both the Oregon and California PUCs have found that it is in the interest of PacifiCorp's electric customers that Klamath Hydroelectric Project be decommissioned there is no turning back from dam removal. Whether the KHSA is the shortest and best path to dam removal has been debated on this Blog. It is a matter of speculation, i.e. essentially unknowable.

The Orleans meeting is an opportunity to learn about what those looking at a variety of dam removal issues are learning. Whatever the final process for dam removal turns out to be the studies and assessments being done now will inform that process. The meeting also provides an opportunity to learn about how the KBRA Water Deal is being evaluated as part of the Secretarial Determination process. 

Keno is the key

The KHSA calls for removal of four dams and transfer of PacifiCorp's fifth Klamath River dam and reservoir - Keno - to the Bureau of Reclamation. Keno has the worst water quality in the Basin and neither the KHSA not the KBRA provide assurance that pollution at Keno will be cleaned up. In KlamBlog's opinion, those who want the Klamath River restored should insist that an agreement to transfer Keno to the Bureau of Reclamation includes specific and detailed provisions and time-lines for cleaning up severely polluted Keno Reservoir. 

Like dam removal, Keno ownership transfer must pass muster under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Keno Reservoir receives all agricultural wastewater generated within the Bureau of Reclamation's 200,000 acre Klamath Project. As a result, water quality at Keno is worst than anywhere else in the Basin. Nutrient pollution is so bad in the Klamath Project's wastewater that ammonia - which is directly toxic to all life - is sometimes produced. Fish kills caused by the severe pollution occur nearly every year in Keno Reservoir.  

KlamBlog will be at the Orleans meeting and will be sure to ask about how the proposed Keno transfer is being studied and evaluated. We will report on what transpires. 

Below you'll find the official meeting announcement from the Department of Interior:

Informational Meeting on Klamath Dam Removal Studies for the Secretarial Determination

Host Dept. of the Interior
Location Karuk Tribe Community Room, 39051 Highway 96, Orleans, CA
Date Jun 15, 2011
Time 04:00 pm - 06:00 pm

The Department of the Interior will be hosting a public meeting to provide an update on the Secretarial Determination process for Klamath River dam removal as part of its commitment to hold periodic public meetings in different parts of the Klamath Basin. In this meeting, the Department will share with the public general updates about the determination process, provide specific information about various technical studies being undertaken as part of the process, and provide an opportunity to obtain feedback from the public and to answer questions.

The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) requires the Secretary of the Interior to make a determination as to whether, in his judgment, removal of four privately owned dams on the Klamath River:
     1) Will advance restoration of salmonid fisheries in the Klamath Basin; and
     2) Is in the public interest, which includes but is not limited to consideration of potential effects on local communities and tribes. The KHSA requires the Secretary to make this determination by March 31, 2012.

The Secretary’s determination will be informed by a thorough technical analysis of the potential effects of dam removal (monetary and non-monetary) on fisheries and communities, as well as an analysis of the potential environmental effects of dam removal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

As a point of clarity, these meetings are in addition to, and separate from, public meetings specifically associated with the National Environmental Policy Act process.

Presentations and additional information from this meeting will be available at

1 comment:

JoshN said...

Thanks Felice - BTW I got a link to this this through Native American Fish and Wildlife Society- Boy do I feel duped; the silencing of the science or even any discussion of the Keno resevoir in the KBRA scares me and makes me jump to cynical conclusions about our trusted tribal representatives, but maybe they aren't invited to all the meetings. However, I believe the simple logic that one dam is better than five in the long run (pun intended), especially for us on this side of the Klamath Mountains. And that the KBRA might be the Tribe's best shot at having a role in what happens on the other side. Probably some fish/people will have to become sick with ammonia before it's exposed- seems like more of a hotpoint foe than Klamath blue green algae, which some people think is good to eat, and some advertise as organic - ha!