Environmentally Sustainable Economic
Development in Klamath Falls
rising oil prices, increasing awareness of global climate change, and the need
to conserve water in the area demand for environmentally sustainable practices
will continue to grow.
Cogeneration Energy Plant
taken in the Klamath
Basin to increase water
efficiency is the cogeneration plant. The city raised 300 million in municipal
revenue bonds to build a cogeneration energy plant which is one of the most environmentally
friendly energy producers in the world. The plant uses natural gas to produce
two forms of energy, electricity and steam. The electrical output is 500
megawatts, enough to supply 400,000 homes and the steam us used by a local
wood-products plant, increasing the plants efficiency by over 50 percent. Additionally
the plant is cooled using recycled water from the cities wastewater, saving 2.3
million gallons per day.
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Falls is fortunate to be located near a geothermal source
which can provide a reliable and renewable heating source for the cities
residents and businesses. The system was built in 1981 with the intention of
providing heat to government buildings, along with possible extensions along
the route. The system has faced several problems over the years, including a
three year delay in start up, temporary system failure, low load factor, using
only 15-20 percent of its capacity, and competition from low natural gas prices.
Despite these setbacks the system continues to have support from the city,
which has been trying to add customers to the system since 1992. With the price
of natural gas rising and increasing awareness about global climate change
geothermal energy will become more competitive.
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The availability of geothermal heat has
been used to heat greenhouses in the area, allowing them grow everything from
tree seedlings to household plants year round. One company even uses geothermal
heat to raise several species of tropical fish. A future proposed project using
geothermal heated greenhouses is the production of “Mighty Might’s”, a
biological pest management resource used to fight against red spider mites
without the use of chemical pesticides.
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Because of an increased level of
nutrients in the rivers caused by local farms, along with increasing temperatures
in the lakes, algae blooms have occurred in the area, leading to dangerous
levels of bacteria. The algae used to be an economic resource for the area;
however it has turned into a toxic form. This could potentially lower the recreation possibilities
in the area, a major economic resource, not to mention the impact algae blooms
have on the already threatened eco-system.
Here for a Video about the Toxic Algae