Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
- a weekly column published in the Siskiyou Daily News 8/2/11
Recently, the Secretary of the Interior announced that
$1,944,000 would be going to studying the
The basin study will look at how climate change will affect supply and demand, including the timing and type of precipitation. It will identify supply issues and use conflicts or “imbalances” in the basin. The ultimate product of the study will be a basin-specific plan that will recommend “collaboratively” developed solutions to help meet water demands and foster “sustainable development.”
Specifically, the study is likely to look at Klamath Project operations, the hydroelectric facilities, fish and wildlife habitat, endangered species, water quality, flow and flood control. Although the documents I read did not mention impacts to irrigated agriculture and forests, I would hope that they would be included.
According to the literature, “solutions” that could be identified for “water imbalances” might be: operational changes; water conservation and efficiency; drought contingency plans; water marketing; inter-basin transfers; upgrades to existing facilities; water re-use; conjunctive use (varied use of surface and groundwater.) The study also analyses “trade-offs” – looking at relative costs and environmental impact. (Hopefully this will include impact to the social fabric and economy of our communities.)
It is “curious” to note that
the Klamath WaterSMART program gives no indication of
recognizing the jurisdiction of the Siskiyou County Flood
Control and Water Conservation District (SCFCWCD.) The District
was created in 1957 by Congress under Appendix B of the Klamath
Compact. The State of
The District has jurisdiction over flood control. It can store water in reservoirs, divert and transport water for beneficial use and it can recharge the aquifer. SCFCWCD can also conserve water and take action to defend water rights. It can prevent interference with or diminution of, or declare the rights in natural flow of any stream or surface or subterranean supply of waters useful for any purpose of the district or of common benefit of the lands within the district or to its inhabitants. The District can also prevent unlawful exportation of water and prevent pollution of surface or subsurface water. It can defend actions to prevent any interference with the water that may endanger or damage the inhabitants, lands, or use of water in, or flowing into, the district. (Although it seems that it cannot defend controversies between land and water owners.)
The Council on Environmental Quality has also released a National Action Plan for "Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate." This proposes that government agencies and citizens “collaboratively manage” water resources to assure adequate water supplies, to protect human life, health and property, and to protect water quality and aquatic ecosystems. This effort would be under a formal organizational framework linking Federal agencies with State, tribal and local governments.
The Army Corps
of Engineers is promoting Integrated Water Resources Management.
This implements Chapter 18 of Agenda 21.
IWRM strategies are originally
based on the four Dublin Principles presented at the World
The Administration is also implementing a National Geographic Framework and habitat conservation strategy. There are now 22 regional Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs,) which will facilitate strategic on-the-ground "integrated" (public-private) conservation at landscape scales through a partnership approach with agencies, tribes, local government and non-government organizations (NGOs.) These will be supported by 8 regional Climate Science Centers (CSCs,) which will provide information and best management practices to support mitigation efforts on both public and private lands. Focal species will be used to represent the needs of larger groups of species that use habitats and respond to management similarly.
Page Updated: Wednesday August 03, 2011 03:36 AM Pacific
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