The Klamath River begins below the Link River Dam at Lake Elwana, and flows south for approximately 250 mi to the sea. Treated wastewater, municipal runoff, and industrial pollution contaminate the river within the first few miles. Several old lumber mill sites, including one active mill site still float logs into the water, which causes decompensation and loss of oxygen for fish. Re-circulated water warmed by irrigation and high in nutrients, enters the Klamath River from the Klamath Straits causing poor water quality and algae blooms.
The Keno Dam was built to regulate the Klamath River for downstream power generation, recreation and irrigation, although it provides no power generation itself. Algae blooms and fish kills are not uncommon behind the dam, especially during the summer when temperatures are high and nutrient rich waters back up and stagnate. There is a fish ladder around the dam, but it is not sufficient to allow endangered sucker fish to move back upstream after passing through the dam.
JC Boyle Dam
Nearly the entire flow of the Klamath is diverted at the JC Boyle Dam into a series of pipes and flumes, nearly de-watering a 6 mile stretch of the river, before running the water through turbines and dumping it back into the channel. Water below the dam suffers from algae blooms, which thrive in the nutrient rich warm waters and consume oxygen needed by fish to survive. The algae produce the toxic microcystin, a potent liver toxin and known tumor promoter, and often exceed the World Health Organizations guidelines.
Copco 1 & 2 Dams
Copco 1 & 2 Dams: When the Copco 1 Dam was constructed on the Klamath River in 1918, it permanently blocked access to more than 75 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat in the main stem of the upper Klamath and its tributaries. Copco 2, was constructed just a quarter-mile downstream of the original facility in 1925. These dams not only blocked salmon and steelhead migration, they significantly altered river flows, as water was released or stopped (1,500 percent or more in a matter of minutes ) destroying salmon spawning beds below.