Thousands of adult salmon have died because of low flows and poor water quality. Since the dams were built, Klamath Salmon numbers have dropped from more than a million to less then 8% of that with one of the worst runs ever occurring last year, according to the Klamath Riverkeeper. Record-setting levels of a highly toxic algae have been found behind the dams during the last two years, and last year, low runs of wild Klamath salmon caused severe restrictions on commercial salmon fishing on over 700 miles of coastline in Oregon and California. These conditions have resulted in federal disaster declarations and have fueled the movement by the states, fishermen, tribes, and environmental groups to take down PacifiCorp's outdated dams along the Klamath River.
"First PacifiCorp dammed the Klamath River cutting off hundreds of miles of salmon habitat and degrading water quality," stated Regina Chichizola, the Klamath Riverkeeper. "Now, the hatchery that was supposed to fulfill PacifiCorp's promise to keep the Klamath salmon from facing extinction is polluting the river and further jeopardizing the survival of the salmon it is best known for." Chichizola went on to say that the dams do not provide for flood control or irrigation, and represent less than one-half a percent of PacifiCorp's energy supply Klamath Riverkeeper has documented repeated discharges of wastewater containing pollutants in violation of the hatchery's permit and tracked the hatchery's failure to comply with monitoring and reporting requirements of the permit, which will be the basis for the lawsuit. Riverkeeper is also looking into ways to hold PacifiCorp responsible for the creation and release of toxic algae in their dams.
PacifiCorp, a Portland, Oregon company, was recently acquired by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, which is owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.
Chichizola called upon Buffet to reconcile his philanthropic concern for low-income and health-challenged communities around the world with PacifiCorp's practices here in California. In 2006, Buffet committed roughly 85% of his $40 billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Two of the charities run by Buffet's children - also beneficiaries of his fortune - include a focus on the environment, species protection and clean water.
"The second richest man in the world owns PacifiCorp, yet the company is not being held responsible for its role in the deepening crisis on the Klamath. We implore Mr. Buffett to review the practices of PacifiCorp and its devastating impact on the Klamath and coastal economies. We can still save the Klamath and its wild salmon but urgent action is needed now. The Klamath's future, and the future of the salmon industry, is in Warren Buffett's hands," said Chichizola.