TID pumping water to Lower Klamath Refuge
precipitation in Tule Lake Basin has prompted the Tulelake
Irrigation District to begin water deliveries ranging from
6,000 to 10,000 acre feet or more to the Lower Klamath
National Wildlife Refuge, according to Brad Kirby, manager
district began pumping water to the refuge Feb. 5, and a
second unit on Feb. 14, Kirby told the Herald and News
Monday afternoon. Kirby said TID will send water to the
refuge for as long as they can, but will monitor to ensure
it’s not impacting regulatory limitations.
irrigators, and growers in the Basin are tied at the hip to
wildlife,” Kirby said. “It’s all part of our community and
part of our Basin.”
Farmers in TID
pay 100 percent of the cost to operate the district’s D
Plant pumping station, with annual costs of up to $1
Kirby said the
district has been dealing with the increase in power costs,
which could be seen as a “burden” to farmers, since 2005. He
added that he tries to keep on eye on ensuring costs don’t
put patrons in the “hole” and is constantly working with the
Tulelake refuge office to maximize the benefit of the water
from the D Plant.
“It’s in our
interest to limit D Plant pumping as much as possible, but
right now it’s a good time to get water out, and over to the
Lower Klamath refuge,” Kirby said in a news release. “Lower
Klamath National Wildlife Refuge has experienced water
shortage in recent times due to dry conditions and the
inability to divert water from the Klamath River because of
Endangered Species Act protections for fish.”
The D Plant,
built in the early 1940s to drain water from the Tule Lake
side of the Basin through a one-and-a-quarter-mile long
tunnel underneath Sheepy Ridge, discharging into Lower
Klamath refuge, Kirby said.
D Plant pumped on average 80,000 acre feet a year and it
pumped in some way shape or form 12 months out of the year,”
Kirby said, noting that a variety of factors limited this
output, including drought conditions and regulatory
limitations on the Klamath Project.
water being diverted into the Project because of the ESA,
and therefore we have less water to work with overall. As a
water manager, we’re constantly trying to strive for
increased conservation and efficiency,” Kirby said.
Turning on D
Plant at this time of year is an indicator of more moisture,
Kirby told the Herald and News on Monday afternoon, but not
a guaranteed answer to an uncertain water year.
currently in a wetter-type scenario,” Kirby said, “but
because of timing, because of our lack of carry over and
lack of ability to store water, that doesn’t always mean
that it’s going to be okay.”
Kirby said the
district is still proceeding with caution to monitor how
much water is sent to the refuge and for how long.
okay right now, but had we been in a situation in years
where the lake was higher … we don’t have storage to carry
that throughout the season so it ends up coming into the
system and we effectively lose the ability to store and make
water stretch because of the Upper Klamath Lake … There’s
not a lot of storage.”
This time last
year, TID wasn’t able to send water to the refuge due to dry
conditions in the Tule Lake Basin.
district pumped about 9,000 acre feet of water to the refuge
in fall 2017.
uncertainties of water, we’re hoping for just horrible
winter conditions,” Kirby said.
Klamath Water Users Association PRESS RELEASE:
Klamath Project farmers increase water delivery to Lower Klamath
National Wildlife Refuge
In the face of uncertainty about their own irrigation
supplies this summer, farmers in the Klamath Project’s Tulelake
Irrigation District are funding water deliveries to Lower
Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, a key breeding and feeding
ground in the Pacific Flyway.
TID began operation of its Pumping Plant D, a source of water
for the refuge, in early February, and increased pumping to 300
acre-feet per day on February 14. Farmers in TID pay 100 percent
of the cost of operating the facility, and annual costs can
approach $ 1 million.
TID Manager Brad Kirby is in charge of the pumping facility,
which removes water from designated sumps in the Tule Lake
basin. Water in the sumps can be used for irrigation in TID or
pumped through D Plant to Lower Klamath Refuge. Kirby explained
that tight operational constraints imposed by federal regulators
and recent weather made it necessary to remove water from the
sumps. According to Kirby: “It’s in our interest to limit D
Plant pumping as much as possible, but right now it’s a good
time to get water out, and over to the Lower Klamath refuge.”
Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge has experienced water
shortage in recent times due to dry conditions and the inability
to divert water from the Klamath River because of Endangered
Species Act protections for fish.
“Farmers and the refuge have a shared challenge,” said TID
President John Crawford. “Our ability to divert water for farms
and wildlife is limited by the Endangered Species Act. We value
the magnificent wildlife resources in this area. We keep our
commitment to provide whatever irrigation water the ESA allows,
and also do as much as we can help our wildlife refuge
Kirby said that the continuation of pumping to the refuge
will depend on weather and regulatory obligations.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.
section 107, any copyrighted material
herein is distributed without profit or
payment to those who have expressed a
prior interest in receiving this
information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only. For more
information go to: