Adminstrative Made Drought
“The forced change of the
use of water from irrigation to grow food and
fiber to in-stream flows for the benefit of fish
is the overarching cause of the persistent water
shortages in the Upper Klamath River Basin. Our
state and federal governments have accomplished
ALL of these changes regarding the use of water
entirely through the application of
Throughout recorded history, the Klamath Basin has
experienced periodic meteorological droughts lasting
from one to several years. That reality is normal for
high mountain valleys located east of the Cascade
summit. Traditionally, water users have worked together
with good success to get through those drought years.
However, during the past twenty years, the Basin has
experienced persistent, ongoing and worsening man-caused
droughts. Water that has been stored and used for
irrigation for more than a century has been reallocated
under the public trust doctrine by our state and federal
governments for alleged higher and better uses.
Make no mistake!
change of the use of water from irrigation to grow food
and fiber to in-stream flows for the benefit of fish is
the overarching cause of the persistent water shortages
in the Upper Klamath River Basin. Our state and federal
governments have accomplished ALL of these changes
regarding the use of water entirely through the
application of administrative actions.
Those changes are
Tribes have made their “call” to protect the instream
water rights given to them administratively by the
Oregon Water Resources Department. This action
effectively prohibits the diversion of any water for
irrigation in four entire watersheds. This represents
the third consecutive annual Tribal “call” to prevent
the use of surface water for irrigation in those four
Moreover, the Upper Basin “settlement agreement”
includes the permanent “retirement” of 30,000 acre feet
of irrigation water to be delivered to Upper Klamath
Lake. That concession will permanently dewater about 25
square miles of fertile crop and pasture land. The
“retired” water was intended to enhance instream flow in
the tributaries to Upper Klamath Lake AND to provide
more water for the Bureau of Reclamation’s 1,400 family
Klamath Project located downstream.
Last month, the National Marine Fisheries Service
administratively “took” all of that 30,000 acre feet of
water for the alleged benefit of Coho salmon in the
Klamath River. Of that, 15,000 acre feet in the spring
is to be used to flush Coho smolts downriver and 15,000
acre feet in the fall is to ensure adequate flows for
the Coho to migrate up-river.
According to the National Marine Fisheries Services, the
only alleged alternative to this ongoing theft of
irrigation water is to prohibit salmon fishing in the
Klamath River this fall.
According to the Service’s administrative rules, the
prohibition of fall salmon fishing in the Klamath River
would require the Service to shut down salmon fishing on
the entire southern Oregon and northern California
The new government motto should read “Never enough."