(Klamath) Bureau head to leave
Reclamation area manager taking Sacramento job
By DD BIXBY H&N Staff Writer August 25, 2008
The departure of the Klamath Bureau of Reclamation head won’t
cause ripples, and the transition should go forward uneventfully,
Area manager Pablo Arroyave came to the Klamath Basin in 2006 from
the Carson City, Nev., office, an area with a water situation
similar to the Klamath Basin. In July, BOR announced that Arroyave
would move to Sacramento as assistant regional director for
technical services. Arroyave’s last day in Klamath Falls will be
Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water User’s
Association, said whoever steps in for Arroyave will be the third
area manager he’s dealt with in as many years, but he doesn’t
expect the rapid changes to cause much stir.
“It’s hard. You like to have continuity,” he said. “But the
transition went well last time, and I have no doubt that it’ll go
well this time.”
For those Addington represents, and many other groups dealing with
water issues, the Klamath Basin Water Agreement is one of the more
important issues the new area manager will need to jump right
“A lot of things people are doing here are tied in one way or
another to an outcome there,” Addington said, adding that by the
time a new manager is named, the agreement may or may not be a
“But as we sit here today, that would be a high one on the list,”
he said of the water agreement, which represents the interests of
more than two-dozen stakeholders and groups.
Reclamation deputy area manager Christine Karas, who will be
filling Arroyave’s position on an interim basis, said it may take
the Bureau up to six months to make a permanent hire. Karas, who
is second in command at the Klamath Falls office, said she would
apply for Arroyave’s position.
Arroyave said his position in the regional office would have him
working on Klamath Basin issues, particularly the continued
progress of the water agreement and endangered species
The Klamath Project received a new biological opinion on the
amount of endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake. The opinion is
the first nonjeopardy opinion the agency received from U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service since the 1980s.
While the ruling was a small triumph for Reclamation and
irrigators, they must wait until a second opinion from the
National Marine Fisheries Service is released on the coho salmon
and flow levels at Iron Gate Dam.
“The NMFS biological opinion is going to be critical to how we
operate here for the next decade,” Addington said. “So being able
to effectively manage the process of opinions and working with
regulatory agencies is going to be very important (for a new
Beyond politics and environmental regulations, the Klamath
Project’s main goal is still delivering water to users, Addington
said, adding that a fundamental knowledge of project operations
and maintenance are requisite.
“We don’t want to lose sight of delivering the water,” he said.
Karas, who has worked at the Klamath Project for five years, said
the age of the system presents challenges. Construction began in
1906 and continued for several decades.
“It’s an old project and we’ve been chipping away at modernizing
and ensuring that everything is in top-notch physical condition,”
Karas also said the limited carryover storage capacity from one
year to the next makes water management planning tricky on a
yearly basis. BOR will continue looking into developing Long Lake
for more storage, Karas said.
Arroyave agreed that storage and continued operation and
maintenance of a 100-plus-year-old system were two of the most
challenging elements of the Project.
Jerry Pyle, assistant manager of the Tulelake Irrigation District,
said the management change at the Bureau of Reclamation would
likely be insignificant to the district’s operations.
“Those people just come and go,” he said. “You get up in Pablo’s
position and it’s all politics. Unless you get someone in here who
really wants to help irrigators, they can’t really do much for
TID delivers water to 62,000 acres in the Klamath Project, which
totals 240,000 acres of farmland in California and Oregon.
Pyle said finding a favorable power rate for irrigators is a top
A 50-year contract kept irrigation rates at tenths of a penny per
kilowatt-hour. Since that contract expired in 2006, Pacific Power
has been incrementally raising rates to meet standard irrigation
tariff, with the phase-in period different on each side of the
In California, rates are now 6.2 cents per kilowatthour, Pyle
Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges also depend on water
delivered to the almost 200,000 acres of protected federal lands.
In priority of delivery though, the refuges are last on the list,
said Ron Cole, project leader for the refuges.
Priorities for BOR Klamath Project water delivery are meeting
regulations set forth by Environmental Species Act, tribal
interests, agriculture and then refuges, Cole said.
From the refuge perspective, continued collaboration between all
parties and agencies involved is vital to operations, Cole said.
“It’s important to continue the working collaboration with
farmers, landowners and other agencies,” Cole said. “BOR is an
important cog in that wheel, and we hope to continue working with