headed for Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, Wood River
Resources Department is in the process of validating a call
on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including the Wood River,
filed by senior water right holders — the Klamath Tribes —
on April 18.
which has been validated in some locations, but not yet
others, will last through October and asks the state water
agency to monitor and regulate stream flow in the stream
reaches. A full list of stream reaches that are part of the
call can be found online at www.heraldandnews.com.
“The Tribes and
the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) believe that various
Tribal water right claims for in-stream flows and elevation
levels will require enforcement based on available gage and
collected data, on our understanding of the system, and on
the potential for activities that divert surface water for
various purposes,” said Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said in
the letter addressed to OWRD Watermaster Danette Watson.
“To the extent
allowable by law consistent with enforcement against other
water users, this call for regulation is not intended to
impact domestic water users.”
not be reached for additional comment by press time.
Watson said a
call on water can come in the form of a phone call or
printed letter from a water user to the state water agency.
She said the Tribes usually send a letter.
that irrigate can call the watermaster’s office if they
believe someone with a junior water right to theirs is
irrigating with water that should be coming to them.
It’s up to the
watermaster’s office to validate or approve the request.
“We go up to
the stream, we measure it,” Watson said.
“The call is
either valid, which would mean we would have to do some kind
of enforcement regulation, or else the stream is above the
determined claim, and we don’t do anything then.”
the Upper Basin tributaries is nothing new, according to
“It’s the new
norm,” Watson said.
A call was also
made by the Klamath Tribes on the Wood River in Spring 2018,
which was designated a drought year.
drought designation, the Tribes believe regulation in the
Upper Klamath Basin is still needed to meet their priority
“Stream flow is
incredibly dependent on snowfall and precipitation,” Watsons
said. “There is also the component of previous years, the
antecedent moisture. So if you were to have four or five
years of drought, it is going to play out entirely different
than one year of drought. So all of that comes into play.
timing for when the snow starts melting. There’s still snow
at Crater Lake and obviously that will contribute to Annie
Creek flow, which will contribute to the Wood River flows.
But I don’t know when that will start necessarily really
melting off. It’s so dependent on conditions that not only
exist today but have existed over several years.
“We got a lot
of snow when typically we’re starting to taper off,” Watson
she’s been getting feedback on the call from several Upper
confusion about, ‘Gee, it seems like we had a pretty good
year for precip, why are we being regulated?” Watson said.
“That seems to be the big question.
required to regulate to meet the Tribal in-stream determined
claim,” Watson added. “If and when we reach the determined
claim, any excess above that determined claim, we will work
with the irrigators to determine how to distribute that
according to Oregon water law … We will attempt to
distribute any excess water according to priority date.”
Since it’s not
a drought year, OWRD cannot provide relief to water users
impacted by the regulations.
“We aren’t able
to provide any water for livestock, so that’s made it a
little more difficult on some of these folks,” she said. “We
are strictly regulatory.”
water use in your area? Contact Watson at 541-883-4182 or
visit the office inside the Klamath County Government
Center, 335 S. Spring St., in downtown Klamath Falls.
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