Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


(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, locals say.

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 Thursday.

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 into.

“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 relevant issue.

“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 consultation.

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 manager).”

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,” she said.

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.

Tulelake district

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 us.”

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 priority.

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 border.

In California, rates are now 6.2 cents per kilowatthour, Pyle said.

Wildlife refuges

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 them.”

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2008, All Rights Reserved