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Democrats Ignore Sediment Concerns on Proposed Klamath Dam Removal

(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement following consideration of his amendment to improve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ understanding of sediment-related hazards by studying the failures of the Condit Dam removal project. 

Rep. LaMalfa said, “At a minimum, there is 20 million cubic yards of sediment behind the four Klamath hydroelectric dams, some of it toxic. To put this in perspective, that is one dump truck load, every minute of every day for six years without stopping.  If the federal government is wrong, as they were by 3 fold with the Condit Dam removal project, there could be triple on Klamath, more like 60 million cubic yards.  Under the Klamath River Renewal Cooperation’s plan, all of this toxic sediment will flow downstream and kill every living fish, invertebrate and plant growing in the Klamath river for years to come.  It will eventually spill out into the ocean.  We cannot rush the science on this half-baked project.  The Army Corps needs to do a new review of the sediment as this is a completely different project than the federal government was considering more than a decade ago.  This partisan push for dam removal needs to stop, facts are needed and it is upsetting that the majority in Congress is preventing a needed unbiased study while at the same time California is exempting the project from CEQA.  It appears dam removal advocates don’t want to know the answers because it may prevent the removal of the dams.”

The Condit Dam project’s sediment volume was underestimated by nearly three times. This failure has led to concerns that the 20 million cubic yard estimates attributed to the removal of four dams along the Klamath River could also be too low. If sediment discharged from the dam is not properly managed, it could cause unrecoverable damage to the already struggling Chinook salmon populations, ostensibly the specie that they’re claiming will saved by dam removal. The highly likely cost overruns will be born by California and Oregon taxpayers on top of $250 million in state water bond money that will be shifted to tear down dams instead of building new. On top of that, removal also takes also out a salmon hatchery, which often produces more fish than the river does. All this in a period of drought and a time of a stretched electricity grid.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.

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