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Letter to Bureau of Reclamation from KWUA /  Klamath Water Users Association regarding the Bureau's plan to deny Klamath Project Irrigators and Tulelake Wildlife Refuges water in 2023, regardless of the projected excess of available water in irrigators' water storage

January 19, 2023

Ernest Conant, Regional Director  

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 

California-Great Basin Region 

2800 Cottage Way  

Sacramento, CA 95825-1898  


Subject: Response to January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedures 

Dear Mr. Conant:  

The Klamath Project (Project) is presently being managed for failure. Of most immediate  relevance, Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) is dismayed by the information delivered  in connection with the Flow Account Scheduling Technical Advisory (FASTA) meeting on  January 13, 2023. We urge that you, as contracting officer, with delegated responsibility for oversight and management of the Project, take action to begin prudent water management  immediately.  

As communicated during the January 13 FASTA meeting and as stated in the draft  “January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedures” (TOP), Reclamation’s current objective is to store enough water in Upper Klamath Lake this winter – and only enough water – to achieve  certain lake levels for suckers and to release 50,000 acre-feet for a “surface flushing flow” to the  Klamath River. Delivering water to contractors, or to family farms that grow food for our  nation, or to national wildlife refuges that support the Pacific Flyway, is not among  Reclamation’s goals for 2023. To the contrary, Reclamation is actively managing the Project so as not to meet those objectives.  

The Klamath Basin is presently at 121 percent of normal, in terms of snow water  equivalent. From October through December 2022, there was over 220,000 acre-feet of inflow  to Upper Klamath Lake, and through the remainder of the water year, the forecast is  conservatively between 500,000 and 750,000 acre-feet of additional inflow. Yet amidst these  encouraging hydrologic conditions, Reclamation’s current plan does not include delivering a  drop of water for Project purposes.  

Equally troubling, the current plan for failure would not even accomplish its own inadequate objectives. Reclamation has stated that the goal of the TOP is to achieve a lake level  of 4142.4 feet by the end of March. Yet the information Reclamation presented at the  January 13 FASTA meeting showed that the decision not to reduce releases from Upper Klamath  

Ernest Conant, Regional Director 

RE: Response to January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedures 

January 19, 2023 

Page 2 

Lake would result in the lake being short of that elevation on April 1. Reclamation seemingly  resolved this inconsistency by adding, for the first time, a “+/- 0.10 feet” margin of error to its  projections. Furthermore, after a surface flushing flow, Reclamation’s projections show the lake  continuing to recede below 4142.0 feet by the beginning of May. Reclamation made no attempt  to reconcile this projection with the actual “boundary conditions” identified in U.S. Fish and  Wildlife Service’s 2020 biological opinion. 

Further, Reclamation’s decision on January 13 not to reduce releases from Link River  Dam was seemingly inconsistent with the information it presented the week prior, at the  January 6 FASTA meeting. On that date, based on a forecast showing 306,000 acre-feet of  inflow into Upper Klamath Lake from January through March,1 Reclamation identified an  anticipated deficit in storage of approximately 22,000 acre-feet below the “goal” of 4142.4 feet  on April 1. But a week later, at the January 13 FASTA meeting, based on a forecast of  300,000 acre-feet of inflow during the January through March period, Reclamation indicated the  lake would adequately fill to 4142.4 feet by April 1 with a “+/- 0.10 feet” margin of error. There  was no explanation of how forecasted January through March inflows decreased but projected  lake levels increased. 

Putting aside these inconsistencies, the decision not to reduce releases from Upper  Klamath Lake has still proven to be ill-advised, as forecasted inflows continue to decline since  January 13. As of today, the National Weather Service California-Nevada River Forecast  Center’s inflow forecast (75 percent probability of exceedance) is for approximately  290,000 acre-feet of inflow in January through March.  

This 10,000 acre-foot decline in inflows compared to Reclamation’s projections from a  week ago represent an approximately 0.10-foot decrease in anticipated lake surface elevation.  Reclamation therefore can no longer reasonably argue that maintaining the current rate of releases will still achieve a lake elevation of 4142.4 feet by April 1, even with the “+/- 0.10 feet”  margin of error. 

Reclamation’s flawed goals, and its inaction to date to affect the rate of releases, reflect a  broader inconsistency in its operational planning. That inconsistency is aptly demonstrated by  Reclamation’s statement on January 13, that the TOP were being adopted, effective that date,  while Reclamation was concurrently consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over at least a nine-month extension of the “Interim Operations Plan” (IOP). Reclamation cannot be  following both the IOP and TOP simultaneously. 

According to Reclamation’s own “Managing for Excellence” Action Plan,2 effective  management means managing to achieve successful outcomes. KWUA has the unavoidable  perception that Project management is being driven by a search for the least politically  

1 Based on the National Weather Service California-Nevada River Forecast Center’s 75% probability of exceedance  forecast, dated January 6, 2023, for Upper Klamath Lake inflows during the January through March period. 2 Available at https://www.usbr.gov/excellence/merweb.pdf.

Ernest Conant, Regional Director 

RE: Response to January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedures 

January 19, 2023 

Page 3 

objectionable decision among parties focused on instream water uses. KWUA strongly  encourages you to review and reconsider what would actually constitute a successful operational outcome for the Project in 2023, in light of the recent improved hydrology.  


Klamath Water Users Association  https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/i5qEAlbNPgtBVxncbyuPb3IGd4mfaihKpFs9f2cDO7vAMhEyvC1THSvmxg0T0hllkCg4lnk2b-chEH0t6PL-rWp1t73q1DpBnUzqMYDXSYWe8v2bnbspToz03CoIOdbA1w-57PzJ_0CD-affqH0fdY6hv56ZlhHqg5bAk1agwdBfWA1oIHwuWdqP_IZq7g

Ben Duval 



Paul Souza, Regional Director 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

2800 Cottage Way 

Sacramento, CA 95825-1898 


Scott Rumsey, Ph.D. 

Acting Regional Administrator 

National Marine Fisheries Service, West  Coast Region 

1201 Northeast Lloyd Boulevard, Suite 1100 Portland, OR 97232 


Jeff Payne, Deputy Regional Director U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Great Basin Region 

2800 Cottage Way 

Sacramento, CA 95825-1898 


Alan Heck, Acting Area Manager 

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Klamath Basin  Area Office 

6600 Washburn Way 

Klamath Falls, OR 97601 


Janet Coit, Asst. Administrator for Fisheries National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA  Fisheries Directorate 

1315 East-West Highway, 14th Floor Silver Spring, MD 20910 


David Palumbo 

Deputy Commissioner, Operations U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 

1849 C Street NW 

Washington D.C. 20240-0001 


Mat Maucieri 

Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Operations U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 

1849 C Street NW 

Washington D.C. 20240-0001 


Matt Strickler, Deputy Assistant Secretary,  Fish and Wildlife and Parks 

Department of the Interior 

1849 C Street, N.W. 

Washington D.C. 20240 



Ernest Conant, Regional Director 

RE: Response to January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedures January 19, 2023 

Page 4 

Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary for Water  

and Science 

Department of the Interior 

1849 C Street, N.W. 

Washington, D.C. 20240 





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