Water Quality In Klamath River Gets Approval From Californian Water Board

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. — A report confirms that the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board has run tests on the water quality levels in the Klamath River. The board’s opinion is that the quality of the river’s water continues to improve amidst ongoing dam deconstruction work.


Concerns Over Klamath River Water Quality

Construction crews broke ground on the deconstruction of the J.C. Boyle and Iron Gate dams earlier this year after getting consent to remove them from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

After the deconstruction, residents living around the Klamath River where the dams were previously located, raised concerns about the water quality. In late March, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency and requested that California Governor Gavin Newsom declare a state of emergency. This would have seen federal and state aid in the count but staff from the governor’s office indicated that he did not fulfil the request.

See also: Klamath Reservoir Drawdown Completion Sparks Water Quality Debate


Residents’ concerns centered mainly around the presence of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic in the river after the dam walls were broken down and were first raised by both residents and then in March by Siskiyou County officials.

One of the environmental program managers at the North Coast water quality board, Matt St. John, confirmed that the metals are associated with the sediments as they are bound into and carried with sediments. As the water runs downstream, sediment concentrations come down, and the concentration of metals also reduces.


Klamath River Water Quality Report

A new series of monitoring reports from early May suggests the metal concentrations, several of which occur naturally, are dropping as decades of built-up sediment continues to wash down the river following the dam breaches.

Effected on May 1 and 2, the provisional water quality monitoring reports of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the organization charged with the dam removal,  were provided to the water board last week. According to St. John, a full report from the water board is expected in the coming weeks.

St John said that the bottom line is that, from the standpoint of those heavy metals such as aluminum, arsenic, and lead, these levels are all below water quality standards and don’t present any kind of public health concern at all, confirming that, “They’re really at background or baseline levels.”

Based on a recent visit he made, St. John said that the river conditions appear good despite the demolition work.

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  1. Tom says

    Having KRRC in charge of doing the water testing is like throwing the wolf in the hen house. KRRC has a huge conflict of interest that apparently being ignored.

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