Commiefornia County Declares State of Emergency Over Dam Removals on Klamath River


(The Epoch Times)—Siskiyou County, in the northernmost part of California, declared a state of emergency March 26 and requested state assistance to help residents impacted by the state’s dam removal project on the Klamath River.

Since January, residents living along the river have watched as the 100-year-old Copco Lake disappeared after the state began drawing down dams along the bi-state waterway. The state’s plan to remove four dams along the river is part of its strategy to restore salmon fisheries and habitat.

The county’s board of supervisors approved the emergency declaration resolution at a special meeting Tuesday on a 4–1 vote. Officials said they hoped state assistance could help them monitor the effects of sediment released that has sent algae and chemicals downriver into communities and affected fish.

“This is a proactive move,” Board Chair Michael Kobseff told residents at the special meeting. “The proclamation is to get attention from the state of California and hopefully somewhere from the federal agencies. … It’s just to provide assurance to the community.”

After samples tested showed high levels of arsenic and other metals, county residents were warned this month not to drink or touch Klamath River water that has already killed scores of fish and some wildlife.

Supervisor Ed Valenzuela voted against the resolution, saying the river’s problems are getting “plenty of spotlight” and questioned what the emergency declaration could add.

County leaders said they are hoping the declaration will raise alarms with the state to monitor the changing river conditions.

“This decision marks a pivotal moment in our county’s response to the evolving landscape, emphasizing the importance of preparedness and collaborative action,” county officials said in a press release this week.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services told The Epoch Times the county’s request for an emergency declaration “has been transmitted to the state and will be evaluated on its merits,” according to the office’s spokesman, Brian Ferguson.

Rick Dean, director of the county’s community development department, said since the start of the dam removals, the look of the river water has varied. Some days it resembles the color of chocolate milk and on others it’s black, depending on its flow and how much sediment has been dumped into it, he said.

“There will be times where it’s worse,” Mr. Dean told The Epoch Times. “All in all, it’s not good.”

After the Siskiyou County Environmental Health Department’s safety alert this month saying residents should avoid the river, due to high levels of arsenic, lead, and aluminum, one mother told county supervisors, also this month, her son was having nose bleeds. She said tests of their water showed high levels of chromium present.