Sediment Issues

Below is an article on the recent sediment issues in the lower Klamath.
If the the Klamath is this impaired due to sediment you must consider how much less sediment is downstream than their would be if the dams were never in place or if they were removed.
While removal of the dams would increase fluctuations in river flows therefore helping to flush out sediment that may be held due to the absense of flooding you have to consider the sediment issues in the lakes. Much of the shoreline in Copco Lake is volcanic clay. Many of the coves in the lake have become completely silted in. Just think of the silt that sits at the bottom of the lake. Not to mention the years of pesticides and copper sulfate (bluestone used to kill Klamathon Blue Green Algae in the past) trapped in the sediment. This sediment would have to be removed or dredged out before removal of the dams or it would futher damage the lower river.

Then you have to take into consideration the many dirt roads upstream of the lakes. The run off from these roads probably adds a tremendous amount of sediment to the river system. The lakes currently prevent this from getting downstream. Money could be spent to pave the roads and do other improvements to reduce sediment but then with paved roads the area would be over run with tourists and the natural beauty of the area would be destroyed.

And there is also the agriculture and ranching to consider. As the owner of this I want it known that I support Rancing and Agriculture. However that doesn't mean that it doesn't add to the problem. The same field flooding that lets fertilizers (which aids to the growth of the Klamathon Blue Greeen Algae) and pesticides wash back into the river may also add to the sediment issue. Again, the lakes prevent this sediment from getting down stream.

State says Klamath smothered in sediment

John Driscoll
The Times-Standard
October 29, 2006

A state water quality agency put the Klamath River on a list of troubled waters this week, this time for having too much sediment for its own good.

The lower reach of the river is now considered impaired for sediment, but it will be some time before a plan is formed to cut the amount of dirt that reaches the river and chokes salmon spawning grounds.

”We're just saying there is a problem there and it needs to be looked at,” said State Water Resources Control Board spokesman Chris Davis.

Davis said the listing was a cautionary approach, because they had been notified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that states don't have regulatory jurisdiction on tribal lands. The Yurok Reservation is a mile on each side of the river from its mouth to Weitchpec. Davis said the EPA will determine if the river should be moved onto a federal list.

Kevin McKernan, environmental program director for the Yurok Tribe, said that it's good the state recognizes the tribe's jurisdiction.

”We agree with what the board said,” McKernan said. “We support the science and the science says it's impaired.”

The listing paves the way for a cumbersome process called Total Maximum Daily Load, which sets a limit for a pollutant, then develops a plan to meet the standard. That process can take many years.

In the meantime, the Yurok Tribe and Green Diamond Resource Co. have for years been working on retiring roads that bleed silt into the river and its tributaries and by replacing culverts with bridges.

Green Diamond Forest Policy Manager Gary Rynearson said he hopes its program will address the problem, which he imagined may cost more money to collect more information on sediment coming from roads and logging. He said he'd be concerned if additional regulations eventually came out of the decision.

”We think that we should already be addressing some of these sediment issues,” Rynearson said.

Retired surgeon and river advocate Denver Nelson sees sediment as a critical problem facing the struggling river, and was among those who pressed for the impaired designation. He believes it may be more important than removing dams or raising water levels, which tend to get more attention.

”Sediment is the cake,” Nelson said, “the dams are the frosting.”

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