Klamath Dams Must Go: EPIC Works to Restore Clean, Clear Water

This spring and summer, EPIC expects to see a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the KBRA and draft legislation that has the potential to drive rapid dam removal on the Klamath. We will work steadily and in regional coalition until water quality is improved, flows are sufficient, dams are out of the river, and the salmon can return home.

For the last ten years, EPIC has worked to protect and restore the Klamath-Trinity Watersheds by fighting destructive logging, road building, mining, and grazing proposals on national forests by engaging in every process available.   Our work to protect clean and clear water in the basin includes supporting the recovery of endangered species like the coho and chinook salmon. This year, in addition to submitting a petition to list the Upper Klamath Spring Chinook Salmon under the Endangered Species Act, we participated in a successful lawsuit targeting the California Department of Fish and Game’s lack of enforcement for listed endangered coho salmon on two major tributaries to the Klamath, the Scott and Shasta rivers. In addition, we are engaged in fighting in-river gold mining operations that further threaten river health and fish habitat. All of these efforts would not be possible without our incredible allies. EPIC is proud to be a part of a growing alliance of conservation organizations and Tribal governments working to protect and restore these basins.

Joint Press Release:

Coalition Calls on California Regulators to Enforce Clean Water Standards

As the California State Water Resources Control Board prepares to meet next week in Sacramento, conservation groups concerned with Klamath River water quality sent a letter to the board today urging an end to the ongoing delay in Clean Water Act certification for Klamath dams. Four dams owned by utility company PacifiCorp have operated under annual license extensions since their 50-year license expired in March 2006. In that time, the State of California has failed to process a Section 401 certification application that would require PacifiCorp to meet certain water quality standards under the auspices of the federal Clean Water Act.

“Our request today is quite simple – treat PacifiCorp’s dams like any other dam in California and ensure that they clean up the water flowing out of their facilities before they can make another dime off the Klamath River,” said Ani Kame’enui with Oregon Wild, a leading advocate for restoring the Klamath Basin’s river and wetland ecosystems.

“We need to get the dams out of the river, and it needs to happen now,” said Andrew Orahoske, conservation director for the Environmental Protection Information Center. “These antiquated obstructions block the flow of clean water, resulting in toxic conditions and dead salmon.”

In a comprehensive 2008 report, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that increasing natural flows downstream from the dams would improve water quality and benefit fish populations. Currently, pollution levels are so high that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency listed the Klamath River as “impaired” under section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act.

“The salmon can’t wait any longer, they need clean water. We owe it to future generations to make a stand for the Klamath and Trinity River salmon, and the time to act is now,” concluded Orahoske.

Ironically, the delay in the clean water certification process stems from a February 2010 settlement agreement signed by PacifiCorp, California, Oregon, and other parties to outline a potential process for removal of four Klamath River dams. Section 6.5 of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) calls for PacifiCorp to “…withdraw and re-file its applications for Section 401 certifications as necessary to avoid the certif