Klamath Basin settlement is far from a done deal
An editorial in the Redding Record Searchlight on the draft Klamath settlement proposal.
The various feuding parties in the Klamath Basin have put a lot of hope into secret talks aimed at resolving the battles over water supply and salmon runs, but last week’s announcement of a draft settlement only reveals how tightly the knots are tied.
The crux of the plan is the removal of PacifiCorp’s four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to allow fish passage. Unfortunately, the power company wasn’t part of the talks and hasn’t agreed to dismantle its dams.
Further, it relies on $40 million a year for river restoration on top of current spending, but neither the states of Oregon and California nor the federal government has set aside that money.
In brief, more than two years of talks resulted in calls for demolishing somebody else’s dams and spending a lot of other people’s money.
The goals of the Klamath settlement — more reliable irrigation and fish runs — are essential for the long-term health of the region’s economy and environment, and removing the dams might well be the only feasible way to reach them.
But the “settlement” leaves a great deal unsettled.