Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Uncertainty grows for water deliveries

An irrigation start date for Klamath Irrigation District patrons hangs in the balance after no action was taken in a hearing Wednesday overseen by U.S. Federal Court Judge William H. Orrick in San Francisco.

The hearing, held in the Ninth U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, stems from the case Hoopa Valley Tribe and Yurok Tribe v. Bureau of Reclamation.

Wednesday Orrick heard arguments by the Klamath Water Users Association and four other irrigation districts why a March 2017 injunction should be lifted or altered.

The injunction requires the Bureau of Reclamation to keep an extra 50,000 acre feet in Upper Klamath Lake to shield juvenile threatened Coho salmon from C. Shasta.

KID provides irrigation water for Klamath Project irrigators through an agreement with Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office. But with the drought and ongoing pending litigation, KID officials are concerned there may be little to no water allocation this summer.

The BOR has yet to confirmed water deliveries for the summer, pending a decision by the San Francisco court.

Given that — and potential litigation by the Klamath Tribes against Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Services for alleged Endangered Species Act violations — KID President Ty Kliewer said Thursday the Project could be in a “very, very bad spot.”

“The April 23 start date hangs in the balance of what happened (in San Francisco),” Kliewer said. “And I don’t know if ... we don’t have any water till July or if we don’t have any water this year.”

More litigation pending

The Klamath Tribes filed an 60-day notice of intent on Feb. 9, but has since made no formal move to file the lawsuit, according to Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry as of Thursday afternoon.

The irrigation district had previously planned to start charging canals on April 23, but after the court’s inaction on Wednesday, no water is flowing.

“To this point, about every domino that could have fallen has done so,” Kliewer said.

For Kliewer, knowing what to do next for his own family’s hay operation also hangs in the balance, as well as a dream of carrying on the farming tradition in his family since age 14.

“I have all these beautiful new baby calves and how in the hell am I going to feed them this summer?” Kliewer asked.

Hope for help fading

Hypothetically, without water until June or July, Kliewer said it’s going to cost him $7,000 a month to feed his calves hay when they should be eating grass.


“You’ve got a pretty catastrophic situation that’s going to screw you up for years,” Kliewer said.

In 2001, Kliewer said at least there was federal assistance that showed up later that year to help farmers and ranchers struggling to make it.

“There is pretty much no hope for anything like that this year,” Kliewer said.

“The farmgate value of commodities out of Klamath County is $292 million, and the Oregon State University economic multiplier after that gets spent in our community, that’s over $500 million. And how can this community live without that?”

KID manager John Wolf echoed Kliewer’s sentiments.

“It’s all up in the air now, we don’t have a clue,” Wolf said. Wolf said many patrons are “sick to their stomachs” about the lack of a start date. “This could break a lot of them,” Wolf said.

“This is a financial hardship, and we’re coming off of a year that commodity prices haven’t been all that shiny anyways.”



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: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Monday April 16, 2018 06:39 PM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2018, All Rights Reserved