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Temporary adjustments coming to Iron Gate Dam


The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, announced Tuesday, Feb. 14 that it will direct “temporary adjustments” to Iron Gate Dam effective immediately.

Flows from the Iron Gate Dam, the lowest of the four Klamath River dams scheduled for removal in 2023 and 2024, are being reduced by about 11 percent, or 105 cubic-feet per second. The reductions began Tuesday and will continue through April 1.

According to a news release announcing the reduction, the agencies said, “The operational change will be informed by ongoing real-time environmental and hydrologic monitoring; further management may be implemented after considering this information.”

Despite storm events experienced across Oregon and California in late December and early January, a spokesman for the agencies said, “the hydrology of the Klamath Basin continues to be hampered by the effects of a multi-year drought. Uncertainty remains with respect to forecasting for this water year, but the three agencies have coordinated on and agreed to an approach designed to minimize risk to Endangered Species Act-listed suckers (shortnose and Lost River suckers), coho salmon, and Southern Resident Killer Whales.”

According to the release, the agencies “will continue Tribal Nation and stakeholder communications initiated last fall, as well as the adaptive management process they have established to consider the best available scientific information in managing risks.” The process is described in the Klamath Project January 2023 Temporary Operating Procedure, and the Klamath Project Operating Coordination, Winter/Spring 2023, released Feb. 13, 2023.

The adaptive management approach aims to address limited available water supply in the Klamath Basin, given potential future hydrology scenarios and competing needs for listed species in Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River.

The needs include Upper Klamath Lake elevations for endangered suckers and providing Klamath River flows, and a spring pulse flow for salmon disease mitigation to protect threatened salmon and Southern Resident Killer Whales. “These species are important tribal trust resources, and their protection is a critical priority for the federal agencies, recognizing the challenges of meeting requirements for all listed species simultaneously,” according to the release.

The release also notes that since last October the BOR has been “hosting technical meetings with Tribal Nations, water users, and federal agency partners to review hydrologic and environmental conditions and discuss proposed changes to Klamath Project operations relative to Klamath River flows and Upper Klamath Lake elevations. Reclamation initiated weekly meetings in January with the release of the Temporary Operating Procedure to review technical and policy considerations for its implementation. Reclamation also holds nation-to-nation meetings prior to major operational changes, and as requested.”

Klamath Project updates can be found at www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao.




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