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Reclamation DENIES Klamath Irrigators their stored water despite exceeding the minimum required water for fish,  violating laws, rights, contracts, and integrity

Letter from Bureau of Reclamation to Klamath Water Users Association/KWUA, September 27, 2021

United States Department of the Interior
Klamath Basin Area Office
6600 Washburn Way
Klamath Falls, OR 97603-9365

KO-300 (WTR-4.00)

Paul Simmons, Executive Director
Klamath Water Users Association
2312 South Sixth Street, Suite A
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Subject: Klamath Project Water Availability from Upper Klamath Lake

Dear Mr. Simmons:

This letter is in response to your letter of September 10, 2021 and provides information on Reclamation’s planned operations for the end of the 2021 spring-summer irrigation season, including transitioning out of the “Temporary Operating Procedures” (TOP) that Reclamation adopted earlier this year in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, collectively the Services) and consistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Presently, Reclamation anticipates meeting the minimum Iron Gate Dam flows in the Klamath River required through the end of September under NMFS’s ESA section 7(a)(2) Biological Opinion, and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Essential Fish Habitat Response (2019 NMFS BiOp). Likewise, Reclamation anticipates water surface elevations in Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) not falling below 4,138.0 feet (USBR datum) at any point this year, as required under USFWS’s Biological Opinion on the Effects of the Proposed Interim Klamath Project Operations Plan, effective April 1, 2020, through September 30, 2022, on the Lost River and Shortnose Sucker (2020 USFWS BiOp, collectively BiOps).

As indicated in Reclamation’s memoranda to the Services dated June 3, 2021, “If inflows [to UKL during the 2021 spring-summer irrigation season] exceed the amount needed to meet the 2019 NMFS BiOp river minimums and maintain UKL elevation at 4,138.0 ft., the surplus inflow volume would initially be held in UKL to enhance conditions for suckers and increase the likelihood of filling UKL during the 2022 water year. Reclamation and the Services will coordinate on water management should other conditions arise that may warrant release of some portion of the surplus volume.” Reclamation is now following that process.

In recent weeks, Reclamation has received inquiries from various Klamath Project water users about the availability of any “surplus volume” above UKL requirements for irrigation use, including requests for delivery within Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges. In consideration of these requests, Reclamation has consulted with the Services, water users, and Tribes. The purpose of this coordination was to receive input on the range of risks and uncertainties facing the Klamath Basin, to explore options for the management of any “surplus volume” in UKL, and to ultimately inform Reclamation’s decision for whether any “surplus” is available for delivery at this time.

Reclamation has determined that no additional water is available for diversion and use within the Project at this time. This decision is based on a desire to operate conservatively given the past two dry years, remaining uncertainties about the winter hydrology and concurrent use of water supply outside of Reclamation’s control, and considerations for aligning supplies for best possible outcomes in 2022.

Reclamation recognizes that this has been an extraordinarily difficult year for Project water users, with most districts and farmers having received no water from UKL. Reclamation is committed to working with Project water users during the coming months on Project operations over the fall and winter period.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact me at jbottcher@usbr.gov or (541) 883-6935.


Jared Bottcher
Acting Area Manager


Gene Souza, Manager
Klamath Irrigation District
6640 KID Lane
Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603

Scott White, Manager
Klamath Drainage District
P.O. Box 1090
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Brad Kirby, Manager
Tulelake Irrigation District
P.O. Box 699
Tulelake, CA 96134

Jason Flowers, President
Ady District Improvement Company
P.O. Box 224  
Midland, OR 97634

Frank Anderson, President
Midland District Improvement Company
P.O. Box 64
Midland, OR 97634

Klamath Wildlife Area
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
1850 Miller Island Rd. West
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

Lyle Logan, President
Pioneer District Improvement Company
11923 Hwy. 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Dan Danforth, President
Plevna District Improvement Company
6410 Hwy. 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Collins Products
c/o Dan Danforth
6410 Hwy. 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Modoc Lumber Company
c/o Thomas J. Shaw
P.O. Box 257
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

John Bellon, Parks Manager
City of Klamath Falls
P.O. Box 237
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Richard and Charlotte Rodgers
9030 Shady Pine Rd.
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

Harold and Cheryl Brown
15311 Algoma Rd.
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Ryan and Jennifer Hartman
P.O. Box 148
Malin, OR 97632

Flower Brothers Inc.
c/o Christy Flowers
P.O. Box 1126
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Lakeside Farms Inc.
c/o Mike Tyrholm
3510 Collier Lane
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Leslie R. Jones
12975 Hwy. 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Donald Scott Johnston
13619 Hwy. 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

John K. Lilly
13350 Hwy. 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

E. Martin and Shirley Kerns
9350 Hwy. 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601

Griffith Ranch
c/o Marjorie Divine
857 Griffith Lane
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

Green Diamond Resource Company
c/o Cathy Chapel
6400 Highway 66
Klamath Falls, OR 97601



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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