In his recent Commonwealth Club speech, Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar said the upcoming Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (DEIS/DEIR) for the removal of the Klamath Dams offered plenty of good news for those who’d like to see healthy salmon and steelhead runs restored to the Klamath River.
The positive tone of Salazar’s speech prompted CalTrout Executive Director Jeff Thompson to say:
“You don’t get many opportunities to recover and restore something as important and critical to fish and California’s fisheries as the Klamath — it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The benefits — more jobs, more water security for the agricultural sector, a healthy fishery — far outweigh the costs.”
CalTrout is dissecting the just-released Draft EIS/EIR report and will offer plenty of information about that soon, but for those concerned about the economic viability of the Klamath region, here’s an excerpt from Salazar’s speech:
On the other hand, the watershed-wide restoration program that is proposed could add more than 4,600 jobs to the regional economy over 15 years, including around 1,400 during the year of dam removal. The studies say that the reliability in water supplies that would be gained would boost gross farm income and add between 70 and 695 jobs annually to the agricultural economy.
Other benefits include:
One of the key findings in the DEIS/DEIR is the cost of dam removal; current estimates of $290 million are far, far lower than the original $450 million estimates.
With Pacific Power ratepayers set to cover the first $200 million of the cost of dam removal, the amount needed from congress (the next step in dam removal) is far less than expected.
Some cite the “clean, cheap” energy produced by the silted-in dams as reasons they should stay, yet the DEIS says the dams would be operating at an annual $20 Million net loss should they be retrofitted to current standards.
In other words, Pacific Power — the owner of the dams — will lower costs for its ratepayers by removing the aging dams.
“The numbers in the DEIS reinforce what we’ve suggested all along,” said CalTrout Conservation Director Curtis Knight.
“The local economy is better off with the Klamath Dams removed — including the Upper Klamath irrigators, who will enjoy better water security. I’ve been working on the Klamath issue for eleven years, and now I’ve got real hope for a recovered fishery and an improved economy in the area.”