Emotions run high as water dips lower
visibly there is water sitting in the A canal, Bureau of
Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office-directed water flows
from the canal’s headgates have been significantly reduced
as of Monday morning, a move that essentially has shut off
potential for deliveries until June 1.
Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office issued a notice to
Klamath Project irrigators Monday stating a need to sustain
Upper Klamath Lake levels as required by a federal court
order means there isn’t enough water to go around before
June 1. Reclamation will re-evaluate how much water is
available as early as Friday.
want to sincerely thank all of the Project water users for
the hard work, coordination, and cooperation that has
brought us this far through the start of a very challenging
year,” said Jeff Nettleton, manager of the Klamath Basin
Area Office, in a letter to irrigators.
are almost to June, and with a little help from the rain
that is occurring this week, I am hopeful that this will get
a little easier soon.”
Williams said of the 9,500 acre feet that Reclamation is
borrowing from PacifiCorp, 7,000 acre feet will be used to
fill up Copco reservoir. The remaining 2,500 acre feet is
needed to help keep end of the month thresholds in Upper
Klamath Lake in keeping with what is required in the 2013
doing the very best we can, and unfortunately there’s not
enough water to go around,” Williams said. “But we also must
obey the court injunction and we must do the very best we
can to meet the requirements of the 2013 biological opinion,
and we’ve been doing the very best we can to get extra water
to irrigators. I don’t know what else we can do.”
Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office said irrigators can
also anticipate a total 6,000 acre feet for Klamath Project
irrigators from eastside irrigators Langell Valley and
Horsefly Irrigation Districts. The local office will
re-evaluate how much water is available on Friday, but there
are no guarantees for more water before June 1.
Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director Scott
White declined to comment on the water from the eastside.
Klamath Water Users Association also believes that with some
small changes to Klamath Project operations, including
ramping down Link River flows to Biological Opinion
minimums, that up to 5,500 acre-feet could be available to
“That’s strictly out of Upper Klamath Lake,” White said.
feel like we should have access to the water that’s above
the projected Biological Opinion thresholds, and currently
we do not, even according to the Bureau’s modeling.”
also said lake levels on Monday were high enough for
irrigators to utilize water for irrigation. Reclamation
still contends there is not enough to go around.
Reclamation officials are calling the circumstances a
“pause” of water, Klamath Water Users Association is calling
the move a “shutoff,” and sees it that way.
don’t consider it a shutoff since they knew how much water
was available and they chose to use it at a certain rate,
and they got to the end,” Williams said.
Williams noted that eastside irrigation districts will also
contribute water to Tulelake and Klamath Irrigation
nowhere near as much water as anybody wants at this time of
year, but it is what’s available,” Williams said.
and representatives from Klamath Irrigation District do not
cost many, many irrigators in the Klamath Project an
opportunity to begin irrigating,” White said.
“Certainly we’re hopeful there’s more water for the
remainder of the month, but we currently have no
an emotional time, and it’s also a complex situation, with
few answers for irrigators before the end of May.
Klamath Irrigation District expressed disappointment in the
decision to “shut off” water to irrigators on Tuesday, as
well as a belief that there is sufficient water for
irrigators to use.
disappointed in Reclamation’s operational decision,” said
Tyler Martin, watermaster for Klamath Irrigation District
and new board member for Klamath Water Users Association.
“We’ve been working closely with the Bureau and the
month-to-date precipitation suggests we will have sufficient
inflows to track with NRCS forecasts currently utilized in
the 2013 BiOp (Biological Opinion).”
Reclamation is currently implementing the court-ordered
dilution flows that resulted in 3,000 cubic feet per second
in the Klamath River for 13 days, or roughly 50,000 acre
Dilution flows were triggered by the Prevalence of Infection
(POI) in the Klamath River and implementation of the flows
began on May 8.
“Ironically, POI and spore concentrations dropped prior to
implementing the flows,” White said in a news release. “Then
POI increased when the dilution flows began. Family farms
and ranches have suffered this month for another failed
experiment and continued mismanagement of the water.”
of Reclamation officials agree with KWUA that science behind
the dilution flows need to be re-evaluated, which is why
they appealed to Judge William H. Orrick in April’s hearing
in San Francisco.
the meantime, the federal agency has to follow it.
are following it because of the injunctive order by the
court,” Williams said. “And we are following that what we
have been required by the court to do.”
PacifiCorp spokesperson Bob Gravely acknowledged that 500 of
the 9,500 acre feet being borrowed by Reclamation traveled
downstream in error. Gravely said the amount could be made
up in the next couple days. PacifiCorp has lent a total
Reclamation 20,000 acre feet in total — the first instance
with 10,500 acre feet that has been used by irrigators — and
the second instance with 9,500 acre feet recently lent to
can lower our reservoirs by 20,000 acre feet, and by doing
that, that sends water down the river,” Gravely said.
“That’s 20,000 acre feet that the bureau doesn’t have to
send out of the lake. What other obligations they have or
who gets it when is not really our call.”
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