LEGAL, Public Notices, Siskiyou

OPEN LETTER: Klamath Dam Removal Project – USGS  ‘Ready Fire, Aim’ application of science

*** PUBLISHERS NOTE: i removed email address, and phone numbers ***


Jennifer A. Curtis
Research Geologist
California Water Science Center

Liam Schenk
Science Advisor
Oregon Water Science Center

Mathieu Marineau
Program Chief, Watershed Sciences
California Water Science Center

Amy East
Research Geologist
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

CC: Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors


Dear USGS Personnel:

Recently, I reviewed your webpage where you state:

“The USGS is collecting continuous and discrete monitoring data to document baseline conditions and physical responses in downstream river reaches before, during, and after dam removal.”

I am shocked and appalled by the failure of your department to properly consider the lives of the humans and wildlife being adversely impacted by your linear thinking in this complex situation.

By failing to timely release the USGS study conducted from 2018-2022 until January 31, 2024, citizens were not timely advised of a potential health and safety risk, and unable to take whatever measure THEY deemed reasonable to protect their safety and the safety of their children, pets and livestock.

The USGS Study conducted the aforementioned sediment and water sampling study during the period from 2018-2022, yet it wasn’t made public until a week after 5-7 million metric yards of polluted sediments were dumped into the main-stem of the Klamath River.

This vitally important USGS sediments report was not released to the public until after the reservoirs were drained.

That USGS data is found online (Excel Spreadsheet & PDF) at this link:

Since January 23, 2024, post-sediment release water tests have shown a jump in the amounts of Lead, Arsenic, Chromium, Cadmium and Lead in water analysis by Neilson Research labs in privately contracted water tests of the Klamath River water. And…. in a recent KDRV Report – Siskiyou County Health Department

Klamath River water quality deemed unsafe, Siskiyou Health Division says
Isabela Lund
Residents should not be in or drink water from the Klamath River due to high levels of arsenic, lead and aluminu…

Siskiyou County Health Department has issued a Press Release warning of high levels of Lead, Arsenic and Aluminum in their water tests of the Klamath River below Iron Gate Dam, and have advised the public not to enter the Klamath River or drink the water.

Unfortunately, there are domestic wells in the alluvium of the River, which draw from the intrusion water from the Klamath River over relatively short distances. These wells are now suspect for current or future toxic levels of heavy metals, and other toxins, as cited in the 2009-2001* study by CDM Smith/Stillwater Sciences. *2011

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. — Residents should not be in or drink water from the Klamath River due to high levels of arsenic, lead and aluminum, the Siskiyou County Environmental Health said today. 

According to the report, heavy metals in the Klamath River have increased due to sediment buildup that happened after drawdown of the river’s three reservoirs in January. This is part of the Lower Klamath Dam Removal project. 

“The heavy metal analytes that have exceeded the primary and secondary EPA standards, and those which have exceeded the California Beneficial Use Standards may cause deleterious health effects if consumed,” the report said. “Therefore, it is not safe to consume the Klamath River surface water. In addition, at this time, it is advisable to stay out of the Klamath River.”

The 2009-2011 CDM Smith/Stillwater Sciences sediment and water testing study for Copco and Iron Gate Lakes showed a long list of various organic toxins and heavy metals that ranged in values from below dangerous levels to above.

That study contain numerous ‘disclaimers’ and assumptions as to the possible dilution of toxins when mixed with the Klamath River’s waters and the Ocean. Those assumptions provide a material margin of error against the health, safety and welfare of the citizens living on and along the Klamath River. That is unacceptable!

It is believed that the USGS was aware of the CDM Smith/Stillwater study, and arguably has some liability.

Making matters worse is the fact that you seem to have either a serious lack of understanding or disregard for the medical science that proves heavy metals and other toxins are bio-accumulative in humans and wildlife, including non-fluvial fishes.

And to make certain we are clear on what ‘bio-accumulative‘ means in regard to the known levels of toxins and heavy metals in the lake bottom sediments from the lakes behind the Klamath Dams, and now in the waters of the Klamath River, even at low doses (below acceptable standards) they nevertheless accumulate in humans and wildlife over time, which settled-science proves causes serious debilitating illnesses and even death.

Please explain yourselves immediately.

The Public pays your salaries and they have a legal right to an immediate full and complete explanation for what appear as reckless, or worse, incompetent actions in the disregard to public health, safety and welfare.


William E. Simpson II – Rancher-Researcher & Writer

Capt. William E. Simpson II – USMM Ret.
P.O. Bx. **** – Yreka, CA 96097
Phone: ****. 212-5762

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