Monday, April 21, 2014

Klamath River Basin Pact Ends Decades of Water Wars

From the Environment News Service: The historic agreement is signed by key players in the region, but a sizable hurdle remains -  it doesn't become permanent until it is fully funded, and that will require federal money. That's not so easy these days, especially for as controversial a project as this.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Tentative agreement signed in Klamath water wars

From AP: Another strong step in settling the Klamath water wars:

"Gov. John Kitzhaber and representatives of the Obama administration have signed a breakthrough agreement for sharing scarce water in the Upper Klamath Basin, where irrigation was shut off to ranchers last summer after the Klamath Tribes exercised newly awarded water rights to protect fish."

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Feds to supplement Klamath River with Trinity Water

The BOR is releasing water from the Trinity River into the Klamath to try and prevent a disaster like the 2002 fish kill or a disease outbreak. The cooler water will be released as salmon start to move up the Klamath and will continue through September.

Article here.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Here We Go Again...

A Biological Opinion was at the heart of the last water war in the Klamath watershed and was a focus of the documentary Battle for the Klamath. 

Friday, March 08, 2013

After 38 Years, Oregon Backs Tribes’ Water Right in the Klamath Basin

This decision could have far-ranging consequences for future water distribution in the region:

"After 38 years of examining claims, Oregon has issued an order stating that the Klamath tribes hold an enforceable senior right to the water in Klamath Lake and several of its tributaries."

Read the whole story here

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Report says dam removal good for Klamath salmon .

From the AP: " A federal report says removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Oregon and California and restoring ecosystems will produce a big increase in salmon harvests and boost farm revenues. "

The 400-page report attempts to monetize the costs and benefits of taking down the dams for the major constituents in the Klamath region, including fish, farmers, tribes and recreational users. 

Full Klamath Dam Removal report:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tea Party Blocks Pact to Restore the Klamath

The New York Times checks in on the progress of the Klamath Dams deal and finds it stymied by local Tea Party activists.

As predicted, it's much more difficult to actually breach those dams than come to an agreement about what should be done, no matter how revolutionary the coalition was that came together two years ago. Stay tuned...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Study: Klamath Dam Removal Less Costly Than Expected

A new Interior Department study projects the cost of removing the four main dams on the Klamath River to be much less than anticipated and the evironmental impact, particularly for spawning salmon, to be substantial.

There are still many hurdles before the dams actually come down, but this is another important step in the process.

Here's the AP article.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Our New Documentary on Western Water Issues Screens at the SF Green Film Festival

Delta Blues is about the fight over water, fish and farming in California's Delta and Central Valley regions. It screens March 5th at the San Francisco Green Film Festival.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Battle Goes On...

Here's a piece in High Country News about the continued battle in the Klamath River region. As mentioned before, removing those dams and satisfying all the stakeholders from the source of the river in Oregon to the mouth of the river in California is sure to be a long process of legal and regulatory fights. And, as in much of the West, there is just not enough water to satisfy everyone (and everything).  

Friday, February 19, 2010

Agreement Reached on Klamath River

Now the tough part begins: lawsuits, environmental studies, finding the money to take down the dams and then the actual demolition of those dams. For those who haven't seen them, the dams involved are large, functional structures that have been on the Klamath River for many, many years. Bringing them down will be a monumental achievement, and if it happens, may restore one of the greatest salmon runs on the west coast.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lines are drawn over Klamath dam deals

Interesting piece on the split between the Hoopa Valley tribe and other tribes regarding the Klamath dam deal. Same split is going on between some prominent enviro groups.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Deal to raze 4 Klamath dams

Can't wait to film this in 2020. Hope it stands up through the inevitable lawsuits.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Klamath restoration negotiations delayed

Just delayed, or is it kicking the can down the road? The longer negotiations drag on, the tougher it becomes to actually remove those dams, even with the backing of the Obama Administration. Watch PacifiCorp's comments as the September deadline approaches.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Salmon anglers look for hope

Klamath River salmon appear to on the rebound from a few years ago, as Sacramento River salmon - usually more abundant - continue to decline.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Step in the Removal of the Dams on the Klamath

Still a long way to go, but more progress than many expected from this Administration.

In twenty years, salmon may once again swim the length of the Klamath River.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Judge: Water board must review decision on Klamath River algae

In a recent ruling that may have broad implications for dams throughout California, Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing has invited the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board to exercise its congressionally mandated authority to regulate water quality, a news release stated.

The ruling stems from a suit filed by Klamath Riverkeeper, the Karuk Tribe and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations against the NCRWQCB.

The groups filed suit last August after the board rejected their petition to regulate toxic waste discharges from PacifiCorp’s Klamath River dams. More...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Buffett again rebuffs advocates who want Klamath dams out

From the AP: "American Indian tribes and salmon fisherman were rebuffed a second time Saturday in their bid to win support from billionaire Warren Buffett for a proposal to remove four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River."

The road gets tougher for the dams coming down. It's unlikely that regulators from California, Oregon and the federal government will force PacifiCorp to pull down those dams. And even if they tried, who's going to pay for it? PacifiCorp would tie it up in court for years. Meanwhile, the lower river tribes and the salmon will continue to struggle.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yet Another Complication in the Klamath

From Jeff Barnard of the AP: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has listed toxins from blue-green algae as another pollutant of the Klamath River behind the hydroelectric dams that Indian tribes, fishermen and conservation groups want removed to make way for salmon.

The algae toxins in the Iron Gate and Copco reservoirs now must be considered along with other pollutants by the California Water Board as it considers whether to grant the Clean Water Act certification needed by the Portland-based utility PacifiCorp to get a new operating license for four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

NPR Story on the Klamath Dams

NPR looks at the Klamath controversy and the possible removal of the four Klamath River dams.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Irrigators clash over proposed Klamath deal

Interesting article from the California Farm Bureau about divisions within the Klamath Basin agricultural community concerning the proposed settlement agreement. More evidence that finalizing the landmark agreement faces a steep path.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hope in the Klamath Basin

Here's an opinion piece in the Oregonian by two longtime players in the struggle over Klamath water rights and the dams (Troy Fletcher is one of the main characters in the documentary). Interesting paragraph about PacifiCorp's role:

"... the proposed agreement included only commitments between the 26 parties not related to PacifiCorp and its facilities. A separate companion agreement with PacifiCorp is still in negotiation. There have been 16 separate meetings with the PacifiCorp's president or general counsel over the last two years centered solely on PacificCorp's Klamath River hydropower dams."

A hopeful note, because as I mentioned below, without PacifiCorp's participation in an agreement about the dams there's little hope for a lasting settlement, no matter what the other stakeholders agree on.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Deal on Dams on Klamath Advances

The New York Times reports on the landmark $1 billion agreement between the upstream and downstream interests in the Klamath Basin. It's potentially a milestone; just the fact that these groups with such conflicting interests were able to sit down and negotiate such a deal is remarkable.

When I was doing the reporting for the documentary, I heard that the opposing groups were meeting (in secret at that time) and trying to reach some common ground. I admit I thought the prospects were dim they'd get this far.

Yet the cold fact is that it is still basically up to PacifiCorp if the dams are to be removed and key parts of this agreement implemented. And I believe chances of that are slim. There are huge costs, monumental engineering challenges, and many intervening variables; including conflicting government jurisdictions and environmental concerns that still have not been resolved.

I hope I'm wrong. As I pointed out above, I never thought they'd get this far. But there still is a long way to go before we see those dams come down and the historic salmon runs reopened in one of the most beautiful regions of the west.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On the Klamath River, a salmon is worth $200

An article in the SF Chronicle on the economic impact of sport fishing in California. Total for the California economy spent by fishermen per year: $2 billion. The full report is on