Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Razing Dams From the River That Raised Me

Razing Dams From the River That Raised Me

Klamath Riverkeeper

By Erica Terence

Looking back, I can see that I was spoiled growing up, though my family wasn't rich by American standards.

I had a cold, clean river bubbling past my house that contained fish bigger than me. Even when I traveled to Haiti at 13 years old, I didn't comprehend how lucky I was.

In the mountains just outside Port-au-Prince, people bathed in streams so polluted and foul, I couldn't fathom how it would facilitate cleanliness.

Only as an adult, whom the Klamath River called back home, did the truth finally wash over me: without people and communities to speak for stable mountainsides, adequate supplies of clean, free-flowing water, and a diversity of wild fish runs, we could easily have rivers like the ones I saw in Haiti.

My childhood also taught me that we need to fish, swim and raft our rivers to appreciate their magnificence and remember how to protect them.

That's why Klamath Riverkeeper, the nonprofit organization I represent, led 50 children, tribal members, anglers and other community members on a paddle down eight miles of Klamath River canyon last weekend.

Like me, many in this group have been swimming and fishing in this watershed since we were kids, drifting through rapids and hopping rocks endlessly. We grew up in a place relatively untainted by development. Now we take our children, nieces and nephews to the river, so they can learn about catching currents and eddies and how water moves around resistance on its way to the sea.

Despite our longtime enjoyment of the Klamath River, it's not a secret that today's River faces many problems.

But it's also one of the most restorable rivers in America. In fact, we're about to conduct one of the largest dam removals on the planet. Removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath will change the landscape so significantly that we could easily see it from the moon.

This dam removal will reopen more than 300 miles of prime salmon and steelhead habitat and reduce toxic algae and fish disease in the river. In doing so, it will restore income to hundreds of commercial salmon fishermen, who have suffered closures due to declining salmon runs in recent years and create at least 6,000 new jobs in economically struggling Siskiyou County, according to a recent environmental impact statement (EIS) by the federal government.

The EIS also states that a dam-free Klamath will produce 70,000 more fall run Chinook salmon. Klamath dam removal will save the power company that owns the dams, PacifiCorp, and its ratepayers more than $100 million. It will also save the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars in disaster relief spending to bail out unemployed farmers and fishermen in any given drought year.

This dam removal agreement and its companion watershed restoration agreement took years of collaboration, listening and compromising to achieve. It's an answer created by the local people who came together in overcoming the conflicts and competing water needs from the upper and lower parts of the basin to build a plan to remove the dams by the year 2020. The result is the Klamath settlement that the Klamath Basin Economic Restoration Act (KBERA) introduced in Congress last fall, which now awaits a hearing in Washington, D.C.

Forty years ago, with the passage of the landmark Clean Water Act, Congress recognized our right to fishable, swimmable waters. The Klamath settlement transcends partisanship and breaks down barriers to help us realize this dream of clean, healthy streams in our watershed. Because, we know just how important it is to have a clean river flowing with huge fish.

 Visit EcoWatch’s CLEAN WATER ACT page for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A resident works in the vegetable garden of the Favela Nova Esperanca – a "green favela" which reuses everything and is subject to the ethics of permaculture – in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 14, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

Read More Show Less
Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building. Halfpoint Images / Getty Images

By Shelly Miller

The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs indoors, most of it from the inhalation of airborne particles that contain the coronavirus. The best way to prevent the virus from spreading in a home or business would be to simply keep infected people away. But this is hard to do when an estimated 40% of cases are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus to others.

Read More Show Less
California Senator Kamala Harris endorses Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan on March 9, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made a historic announcement Tuesday when he named California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

A northern mockingbird on June 24, 2016. Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

Environmentalists and ornithologists found a friend in a federal court on Tuesday when a judge struck down a Trump administration attempt to allow polluters to kill birds without repercussions through rewriting the Migratory Treaty Bird Act (MBTA).

Read More Show Less
A spiny dogfish shark swims in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Washington. NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

There are trillions of microplastics in the ocean — they bob on the surface, float through the water column, and accumulate in clusters on the seafloor. With plastic being so ubiquitous, it's inevitable that marine organisms, such as sharks, will ingest them.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less