P R E S S R E L E A S E
Karuk Tribe • Klamath Tribes • Klamath Riverkeeper • Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations • Institute for Fisheries Resources
For Immediate Release: December 1, 2015
For more information:
Craig Tucker, Natural Resources Policy Advocate, Karuk Tribe, 916-207-8294
Don Gentry, Chairman, Klamath Tribes, (541) 892-1433
Glen Spain, Northwest Director, PCFFA/IFR, 541-689-2000
Konrad Fisher, Executive Director, Klamath Riverkeeper, 530-627-3311
Groups Push for klamath Dam Removal Despite Congressional Inaction
CA Water Board Resumes Review of Klamath Dam License
Sacramento, CA – With the prospect of solving the Klamath’s contentious water issues through a negotiated settlement agreement dimming, regulatory agencies are resuming the complicated task of reviewing PacifiCorp’s dam relicensing application.
After decades of bitter fights between Tribes, fishermen and irrigators, groups negotiated a water sharing agreement in 2010. The Klamath Restoration Agreements would balance water use between fish and farms, improve irrigation infrastructure, fund fish restoration, and remove the lower four Klamath dams. The Agreements require congressional approval to be enacted. Despite broad support from Tribes, conservationists, irrigators, Oregon, California, and even dam owner PacifiCorp, Congress has yet to pass legislation.
Now the California Water Board will move forward with reviewing PacifiCorp’s application to relicense the dams which could re-ignite the Klamath Water War. PacifiCorp has signed on to the Klamath Agreements which would limit their financial liability associated with dam removal to $200 million. But without the Agreements, PacifiCorp would instead seek to continue operation of the dams, which would greatly increase costs to rate-payers according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission analysis.
The Water Board has held the Clean Water Act permit process in abeyance for several years while Settlement Parties have appealed to congress to enact the Agreements.
“We think we can convince the Water Board to deny PacifiCorp’s license application,” says Karuk Natural Resources Director Leaf Hillman. “The dams harm water quality in ways that can’t be mitigated.”
However, everyone agrees that this outcome would land PacifiCorp, the state, and interested parties in court for years to come. Never before has a state flat out denied a water quality permit to a dam owner.
“Clearly, the Settlement Agreements remain everyone’s best option. But continued Congressional failure to approve the proposed Settlement will have a very high price. Water conflicts cannot be solved by the regular FERC process alone, which deals only with the dams. Without the Settlement we will still push hard to remove the dams anyway, but 110 years of bitter water conflicts would forever remain unresolved,” adds Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Continued Congressional inaction means there will be no water Settlement — only decades more of litigation, irrigation shutdowns and water conflict.”
Konrad Fisher of Klamath Riverkeeper agrees. “The Agreements are basically a way to restore the Klamath River while providing a soft landing for irrigators. But we think the dams are destined for removal either way.”
“We stand at a crossroads here”, says Don Gentry, Chairman of the Klamath Tribes. “We can descend back into chaos and conflict, or move towards a more collaborative future. Congress will decide which path we take.”
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For more information on the California Waterboard’s process, see: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/water_quality_cert/klamath_ferc2082.shtml
- Craig Tucker, Ph.D.
Natural Resources Policy Advocate
Follow me on twitter @scraigtucker