Klamath River Thoughts
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There has been a lot of recent news about the water situation in Northern California. The item that has piqued my specific interest is the algae problems at Copco Lake and the proposed solution to remove of the dam that creates the lake. Our modern science seems to believe that attacking the issue, by poisoning the lake and deconstructing the dam is the solution to the problems, but I disagree and see an opportunity here.
In the case of the algae at Copco Lake, using chemicals to change the composition of the lake seems to beg the problem. At a time when we are searching for reasonable alternatives to fossil fuels, this lake would appear to be an opportunity to investigate using algae as the basis of a bio-fuel industry that uses material that is not in the currently in the cycle. By setting up an aquatic weeds to fuel investigation at Copco, California would take the lead in pursuing economic value out of a semi-worthless material. Algae blooms rapidly and has rapid growth under the proper conditions when nutrients are available. I believe this is the proper basis for a growth industry. Other terrestrial weeds such as scotch broom and gorse could also contribute to the waste to energy agenda – providing biological alternatives to fossil fuels that do not come from the food supply.
As to dam removal – this simple idea is somewhat naïve in a practical sense. This particular dam holds back silt layers that have been accumulated since the time of construction. It is my understanding that copper compounds have been added to Copco Lake for the past ten years to poison the algae. As copper is an aquatic toxin, the release of copper sediments would have a chilling effect – it would poison the downstream aquatic community. If there is a plan to recover this material and reformulate it as a soil additive, an organic fertilizer to enhance topsoil, then dam removal might be workable, because copper sequestered into soils is not toxic to terrestrial life.
Another complication of dam removal is that the flow of this material will bury redds and saturate refugia sites – doing irreparable damage to the fish species that people are trying to encourage. It would bury the interstices between rocks and streambeds that macro-invertebrates use as their homes – removing a primary food source of the fish. Rather than removing dams, designing better forms of fish passage, by breeching the dams with sacred geometry flow form fish ladder could provide migration access in a much more fish friendly manner.
Streams also can produce a lot of algae when water temperature elevate and flows become stagnant. A rivers-for-energy initiative that develops the algae as an organic fertilizer would be a strong investment in the future from a point of view of earth stewardship. By looking at the world through a combination of science and spirit should allow us to develop scalar and sacred geometry techniques that complement existing biological process, rather than attacking it. We are ready to develop demonstration model systems to prove the effectiveness of this harmonic natural community philosophy.
Dr. Lenny Thyme, PhD Natural Resource Scientist