Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development in Klamath Falls


          With 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


One step 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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Geothermal Heat



Klamath 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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Toxic Algae


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.


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