Your article about the demise of the KBRA exemplifies the distorted thinking that promoted this deal ("Uncharted Waters," Jan. 14). Proponents claimed it was necessary to guarantee water for industrial agriculture because no dam has ever been removed without a negotiated settlement.
The era of dam removals has just begun, so there are only a few cases to provide precedent. But the settlement agreements for two west coast dams removed within the last decade, the Marmot and the Elwha, do not resemble the KBRA. These agreements focus on managing sediment, relocating a fish hatchery, controlling noxious weeds, etc. They do not negate water rights for Indian tribes or remove the government's obligation to protect tribal water and fishing rights, as the KBRA did.
Regarding the KBRA, the lawyer for the Hoopa Tribe, Tom Schlosser, in a May 2014 Siskiyou Daily News article said, "As a result, the first priority for Klamath River surface water will go to the Klamath Irrigation District (diversions of 378,000 acre-feet per year), regardless of the effect on fish restoration.
"When, after those diversions, too little water remains for fish, then not only will the United States be unable to protect Indian fishing rights, it will be obligated to oppose those rights. That is, the U.S. will enforce the KBRA priority given to water diversions for irrigation."
KBRA supporters either denied that this new paradigm was part of the deal, or they claimed that the promised restoration money could somehow compensate for too little water flowing down the river. Without sufficient flows, the river will never be healed, regardless of how much money is spent.
The collapse of the KBRA is good news. We can now proceed with dam removal by following the established, legal procedures and without eliminating tribal water rights, which happen to be the most powerful tool for ensuring sufficient stream flows.
Diane Higgins, McKinleyville