July 5, 2018
To: Chris Stein, Hydroelectric Specialist
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
165 E Seventh Avenue Eugene, OR 97401
I stand in firm opposition to dam removal along the Klamath River. For multiple generations these dams have provided exemplary flood control, and abundance of clean, renewable, reliable and affordable power for the region, in addition to recreational enjoyment. I understand DEQ is only asking for comment on the JC Boyle Dam which sits within Oregon’s borders, however, the proposal is to remove four dams along the Klamath River. Discussing removal of one dam outside the scope of the entire project leads to false assumptions and incorrect conclusions about the overall impact to the environment and Oregonians.
You will no doubt hear and read a wide array of reasons opposing dam removal along the Klamath River. My comments will focus on three areas: dam sediment, surface flushing and public opinion.
First, starting with the public hearings of SB 76 in 2009 it was clear then, and remains clear now, that no one has seriously addressed the “colloidal goo” build-up behind all four dams. At that time the estimate was 9,000 acre feet of sediment. It is reasonable to assume, nine years later, there is now even more sediment. To put this into perspective 9,000 acre feet is equivalent to 14 square miles of mud. To remove such a volume of material from the riverbed would take 1,500,000 ten yard dump trucks. In 2009 the cost estimate for such an undertaking was between $1.5 and $4.5 billion. It will be even more today. These real costs have yet to be addressed. Who will pay? Rate payers? Tax Payers? Pacific Corp? Klamath River Renewal Corporation? Moreover the emissions created by such a project would not be consistent with Oregon’s pursuit of cleaner air and lower carbon standards.
The alternative is to allow this toxic sediment to travel down river. The vast ecological damage that would occur is unconscionable. To claim to be for clean water and sustainable fish habitat and at the same time allow more than 9,000 acre feet of sludge to flow down the Klamath River is incoherent reasoning at best, and potentially the most devastating man-made disaster even witnessed in the US at worst.
Second, without dams along the Klamath serious questions arise concerning surface flushing. Currently the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is required to store and flush several thousand cubic feet of water at a time to address the C. shasta parasite. Today the Klamath River dams control the flow of this massive rush of water in stages. Without any control from the initial release up-river, what will be the loss of life to unsuspecting wild life? Furthermore, without the dams controlling this massive flush of water in stages how much more erosion will occur adding more sediment to river?
Finally, in 2014 Siskiyou County (California) residents voted nearly 80% in opposition to dam removal. In 2016 citizens in Klamath County (Oregon) voted 72% against dam removal. During this same time a private survey also found 75% of people affected by this massive change on the Klamath River were opposed dam removal.
It is clear the overwhelming majority of people directly affected by this potential action on the Klamath River are opposed to dam removal. Our government is to be by, for and of the people, not the other way around. This dictate of dam removal comes from outside the area and is being foisted onto those who have depended on these dams for generations. The people’s will is to keep, enhance and move forward with these dams in place to provide affordable power, recreational opportunities and flood control for the next several generations to come.
For these reasons I stand with the people of the Klamath River basin and the environment in firm opposition to removal of dams along the Klamath River.