Opinion, Siskiyou

Debunking: OPB Klamath Water Quality Article

by Dave White
Salmon Protection Device

Our comments to correct this article are in bold.

Executive Summary

A crew of out-of-state pseudo-scientists is now busily making final preparations for the removal of the last of 4 dams on the Klamath River, the Iron Gate dam. That’s according to a January 5, 2024 article in OPB First Look newsletter. With dam removal only weeks away, it appears that only a last-minute legal injunction can save this vital power resource.

The Iron Gate Dam is of vital importance because it is the only one of the 4 with power generating capabilities. In total, they produce over 600 gigawatts of power per year.

Already the Northwest Power grid is projected to crash this year due to the added burden of electric vehicles. What EV owners failed to account for is that the recharging load. Power outages and brownouts are inevitable because of too many EVs and less power generation. Starting next year, by recent analysis, The Northwest power grid will be short by 927 Megawatts and growing. In ten years to be short 8150 Megawatts. 2023 PNUCC Northwest regional forecast provided the data. Also, anything we do with emissions of carbon dioxide takes 150 years to have an effect.

I EV takes 353 kilowatts of power per month 4.3 Megawatts per year. We have 150,000 EV’s in Washington and 70,000 in Oregon.

It’s very easy to see we must stop selling EV’s ASAP. In light of our looming power crisis, removal of this vital source of clean, renewable energy is woke insanity.

After appendix A is Lower Klamath Project FERC Project No. 14803 sourcehttps://klamathrenewal.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/EX-A-ARMP-Dec2021.pdf

The out-of-state groups featured in the article include “The crew from the restoration company Resource Environmental Solutions, or RES, and Northern California’s Karuk Tribe.” The Klamath River Renewal Corporation likewise is also California based.

In OPB Article sourcehttps://www.opb.org/article/2024/02/18/klamath-reservoir-drawdown-water-quality-discussion/

Thousands of fish that inhabited the reservoirs have also died. These are mostly non-native species, including yellow perch, crappie, and bass that thrive in calmer, warmer water.

“It was always expected that these species would not persist,” said Dave Coffman, geoscientist for Resource Environmental Solutions, or RES, during the press conference.

OPB is cheering them on, apparently oblivious to the deep-seated concerns of dam custodial technicians and local residents. With electricity brown-outs soon to be a regular occurrence, removal of this vital source of clean energy is to be charitable — irrational. Not to mention the devastating impact on the very environment the alleged do-gooders are professing to save.

Let’s take a closer look at the OPB article one paragraph at a time. Our comments appear in bold-face type.

RES is California-based with virtually no understanding of the vital role the dams play in the human and natural ecosystem of Oregon. Not to mention the sale of Oregon power to electricity-starved California.

They correctly identify a hundred years of silt buildup behind the dams as the problem. But then they jump to the absurd conclusion that dam removal is the only viable solution. Why not remove the silt instead of the dam? Duh. A simple remedy like dredging behind the dam and installation of a fish ladder on the Iron Gate eludes the pseudo-scientific mind. Apparently not enough drama to satisfy the woke craving to wipe out all evidence of human stewardship of our natural resources. One thorough dredging operation would resolve the problem for at least the next 50 years.

This is the only factual statement we could find in the article: “As that [algae] makes its way downstream, it decomposes,” says Desiree Tullos, professor of water resources engineering at Oregon State University. “That process sucks oxygen out of the water.”

“In the coming weeks, water will be let out from behind the three remaining dams on the Klamath River. A century’s worth of sediment that has piled up behind the dams will also flow downriver.”

This is true. According to the article, 17-20 thousand tons of silt have built up behind the dams. Most of this will flow downstream and settle out at river bends where the water slows; it won’t make it to the ocean. This will alter the river flow with catastrophic results for local residents. Many homes, farms, and businesses will be devastated. Flooding not seen since the early 1900s will be an annual event. The massive release of silt will kill most fish and ruin downstream estuaries.

“The crew from the restoration company Resource Environmental Solutions, or RES, and Northern California’s Karuk Tribe are spending two weeks catching as many young Coho salmon as they can and relocating them to specially constructed ponds next to creeks. By doing so, they hope to protect the Endangered Species Act-listed fish from the deluge of sediment that will be released when water from three Klamath River reservoirs is released this month — a major step toward the removal of three major dams.”

What they don’t tell you is that fish at the bottom of the nets are being crushed by the weight of the other fish when the net is lifted out of the water. That’s not counting the fish that die during the water drawdowns. They have a permit to move fish, but no license to kill them in such quantities. Their permit lists probable fish kills by type but has no exempt request of civil or criminal penalties. In their recent OPB press conference, it was admitted killing thousands of fish.

“If these young Coho survive the initial disruption to the river, they could help make history. “These young fish could be some of the first adult Coho salmon to return to a free-flowing Klamath River in over a century,” says Chase. “It’s even possible some of the fish moved during this effort could return to spawn above the Iron Gate Dam location.”

The only thing making history here is the mental derangement of the extremists who are engineering this absurdity. Anytime you see the word “if” watch out. “If” means they don’t have enough knowledge to say for certain. The items you’re reading in bold are for certain.

“Scientists, fishermen, and environmentalists agree that removing the four dams of the Lower Klamath Project will benefit anadromous fish like salmon, steelhead, and lamprey. But the process will have “unavoidable negative short-term impacts on aquatic species that we all want to protect,” says Dave Meurer, director of community affairs for RES. “You will see dead fish on the banks.”

On what do Scientists, fishermen, and environmentalists agree? Virtually every scientist we’ve talked to is quick to endorse the dredging option as soon as it’s pointed out to them.

They’re thrilled when they learn about the solutions being considered at SalmonProtectionDevice.com. Likewise, It’s only the radical environmentalists who drink the Kool-Aid of their own propaganda, but even they are sometimes compelled to admit the obvious

For example: “Dave Meurer, director of community affairs for RES. ‘You will see dead fish on the banks.’”

“The four dams were built between 1903 and 1962. The smallest, Copco 2, was completely removed this October.” The other two were removed in early 2024.

“There’s about 17 to 20 million cubic yards of sediment built up behind the three remaining dams,” says Ren Brownell, spokesperson for the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the entity charged with dam removal. “Through the drawdown process, we expect five to seven million cubic yards of sediment to go downstream.”

If 17 to 20 million cubic yards of sediment have built up behind the three remaining dams, then 17 to 20 million cubic yards of sediment will be washed downstream to be deposited at river bends or any other low-flow area. This may easily alter the river direction wreaking havoc on existing farms and homes, all exacerbated by the annual flooding that is no longer controlled by the dams.

“KRRC has decided to rip the Band-Aid off and drain all three reservoirs near simultaneously — first Iron Gate, then J.C. Boyle about a week later, then finally, Copco Lake. This slightly staggered approach ensures more of the sediment will slough into the flowing river rather than being stranded along the disappearing lake shores. Crews with RES will help wash the sediment downriver as reservoir levels drop.”

This statement is utter nonsense. All of the sediment will slough into the flowing river and deposit anywhere the water speed slows. “Crews with RES will help wash the sediment downriver as reservoir levels drop” This will cause more buildup behind the last remaining Iron Gate Dam and more released when it is destroyed.

Where are the local stakeholders? Why are their voices being ignored?

““I do worry about the sediment coming down from JC Boyle,” says Linda Ebert, who lives on the north shore of Copco Lake. “We’ve been assured more or less that the EPA reports on it that it’s not that toxic. But I don’t have a whole lot of faith in those reports, quite frankly.”

Other residents are concerned about dust that will form once the muddy footprints of the reservoirs dry out and before new vegetation takes root. Resident Francis Gill sees parallels with Condit Dam, which was removed from the White Salmon River in Washington state in 2011.

“For the first year or two, I guess, the dust was kind of a big issue up there, until the grasses and everything kind of filled in,” says Gill. “So, if it’s toxic, you can see how the wind can blow around here in the afternoons. It comes from downriver and blows up canyon.”

These are the very valid concerns of local residents, who are typically more likely to grasp common-sense solutions than out-of-state, self-appointed “experts.”

Each dam removal adds to the body of knowledge around how rivers recover from these barriers. But it’s also important not to make assumptions about one dam removal based on another, says Tullos. For instance, the removal of two dams on the Elwha River, also in Washington, didn’t have a big impact on water quality.

“There was a lot of sediment, but it was coarse — like gravel and sand,” says Tullos. The distance of the dam from the river mouth, the nature of the built-up sediment, how quickly the dam is breached — all of these play a role in where and how quickly the material moves downriver.

As the reservoirs are drawn down, all of the water and sediment will gush through a 14-foot wide tunnel at the base of Iron Gate dam. The release will be relatively controlled compared to Condit Dam, which was breached with a dramatic blast. Even so, the first pulse will turn the river into “chocolate milk,” says Tullos. Most of the finer silt and clay will likely stay suspended in the river all the way out to the ocean but coarser material will fall out in the stretch of river below Iron Gate. That’s a good thing, says Chase.

That last statement from the OPS article is simply not true: “Most of the finer silt and clay will likely stay suspended in the river all the way out to the ocean but coarser material will fall out in the stretch of river below Iron Gate.”

Most of the finer silt and clay and coarser dirt will fall out at every river bend where the river slows down.

“One of the benefits of dam removal is going to be recovering and re-establishing the more natural movement of sediment from upstream to downstream,” he explains.

This should help build habitat for a suite of native creatures, including salmon, which dig their nests in fine gravel, and lamprey, which spend the first part of their lives burrowed into silt and sand. The sediment should also help scour off the colonies of worms that host C. Shasta, a disease organism that plagues Chinook salmon. In some years, over 90% of the fish sampled below Iron Gate dam have been infected with C. Shasta and likely died.”

One marginal benefit pitted against the many draconian consequences of dam removal. That’s an ecotage transaction that only a radical environmentalist would buy into, regardless of the consequences to man or nature.

“Meanwhile, Tullos and graduate student Christine Alfred have installed dissolved oxygen sensors below the dams and will use these and existing USGS gauges to track water quality following drawdown.”

Great! That’s like setting a house on fire and using a thermometer to record how fast it’s burning.

These same sensors would do far more good in the fish ladders after the sediment is removed from behind the dams to detect any increase in turbidity and the need for more dredging. Typically, a thorough dredging operation would be good for 50 years or longer.

“The goal of that is to understand what is really driving that extraction of oxygen from the river, which is important for fish, right?” says Tullos. “Fish need oxygen.” Their work will piggyback on monitoring by USGS and the

Karuk and Yurok Tribes, which will be tracking how the sediment affects water quality, fish, and the shape of the river itself.”

It’s not rocket science for any real scientist to realize that decaying organic matter and accompanying turbidity will remove oxygen from the water and kill the fish. Anyone with a home aquarium knows that if the water gets cloudy the fish die.

“The funny thing about this pond was, we really didn’t have any design standards at that point,” says Soto. “We were kind of like, OK, we’re just going to dig a hole and see what happens.” Coho, which can spend one, two, or even three years in rivers and creeks before heading to sea, flocked to the pond; even adult fish have returned there. Since that first experiment, the Karuk Tribe and Mid Klamath Watershed Council have built 35 of these ponds alongside several tributaries. The ponds stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and fish grow fat fast — ”coho greenhouses,” Soto calls them.

More eco-centric pseudoscience designed to tickle the ears of the gullible. Let’s just dig a hole and see what happens. That is reckless disregard for the human and environmental consequences. No hypothesis? No data collection. No peer-reviewed science-based conclusions? Soto is fortunate that his non-hypothesis “experiment” did not end up a disaster.

“Any salmon or other fish remaining in the main stem of the Klamath River will know what to do should water quality plummet, says Soto. “I have a lot of faith that the fish that do stay [in the river], if water quality gets too bad, they’ll move. There’s plenty of tributaries around here where they can find refuge.” His crew will turn to monitoring and reacting once drawdown begins on Jan. 11; if they find fish crowding around creek mouths, they will consider moving them to safety. But first, he’ll take a moment to celebrate the milestone that’s been decades in the making, and which now feels as inevitable as the flowing river itself.

“Any salmon or other fish remaining in the main stem of the Klamath River will know what to do should water quality plummet, says Soto.
“As soon as they blow the plugs, I’ll be drinking a beer and going OK there’s no turning back now,” says Soto.”

How can Soto speak with such confidence? Is he a fish whisperer? It took many years to “train” fish to use fish ladders in the Columbia River system. Why, when the Green Peter lake level was lowered so dramatically did fish die and simply come to the surface rather than swim upstream toward cleaner water.

A fish swimming in turbid water is like a person walking through a patch of fog. It’s all too easy to get disorientated and start walking (or swimming) in circles.

After reading this article, let us hope that OPB will stick with entertainment from now on and leave the science to real scientists.


The statements by the alleged scientists in this article are not based on anything resembling legitimate science. Oregon has carelessly placed these life-altering decisions in the hands of amateur, wannabe scientists.

True science starts with informal research. Nowhere in this article is there any indication that these out-of-state interlopers actually talked to dam operations personnel or downstream water users before taking any action. Had they done so they could easily have avoided the “chocolate milk” conditions in the Green Peter reservoir seen below. If this is the result of their initial effort, let’s cut our losses and take the only inexpensive, common-sense action that will actually resolve the problem.

It will spare us years of grief when we finally wake up too late and realize we squandered a priceless heritage bequeathed to us by our ancestors. All the dams need is dredging on the upstream side to get the fish ladders working again for at least another 50 years. Or in the case of the Iron Gate dam installing a fish ladder. If we take them out and then after years of flooding, decide we want to put them back in, it will take another 8-10 years and obviously far more money. The fish have been using those ladder for most of a century.


  1. All of your comments became moot when the Dams owner didn’t find it viable to invest the money into the infrastructure for FERC recertification.

  2. Kristi Lawrence

    Thank you for countering all of the lies. I really hope that the dams can be saved and these lieing wanna be oco terrorists get prosecuted for the damage they have done. Who knows a good law firm that will take this case?

  3. What a load of B. S. Just a whole diatribe of ad hominum attacks based on opinion not science! It totally disregards the evidence based studies and the well considered decision to remove these ridiculous monstrosities of an ancient mind set and their accompanying large stagnant pools of marginal water quality. The Klamath used to support the third largest chinook population in the PNW. All that destroyed by the dam system that destroyed the salmonid habitat and restricted passage to historic spawning grounds in the upper tributaries. These stagnant bodies of water poisoned the river system with high temperatures, algae blooms, introduced non-native species, parasites and bacteria that negatively impacted the anadromous species that were historically present.
    Just a bunch of belligerent complaining and failure to graciously accept the will of the educated majority. Things change when it is recognized that our decisions made in the past were made without full knowledge and caused sometimes, irreplaceable harm.

  4. Tragically poor journalism.

  5. David Cowardin

    Tracy has it right. Also the fact that the current owners of the dams did not apply to FERC for a 50 year license period just seems to have eluded these people. Also i will say that this is a state project meaning that plenty of time was provided for any group to make comments PRIOR to the project getting started rather than AFTER ItWasSTARTED.

  6. Replying to Tracy Cohen: There is NO historical evidence that salmon ever migrated beyond the mid river to spawn. The reservoirs were built over drops in the river of over 25 feet, which is too high for salmon to jump. There is even plans currently to dynamite these sections to create fish channels, created by lava flows around 20 million years ago, once the reservoirs are completely drained. You are also ignoring the fact that most water from the upper Klamath never flowed into the middle and lower river. It would flood into the Tule Basin upstream. The water is phosphate rich because of the soil geology and it’s not healthy for that water to flow downstream. The dams did not harm salmon populations because the salmon never spawned upstream of the dams. Any harm the dams caused was usually due to ill-timed releases of water, typically to increase river flow in the summer when historically the river would dry up and the parasites that attack salmon would die. The environmentalists got almost everything wrong back then, and they’re doing it again now. The ecosystem on the Klamath River is complex and you have only heard one side of the story.

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