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KID seeks state control over water distribution

Oregon Water Resources Department is evaluating a request from the Klamath Irrigation District asking the agency to enforce its regulations of Upper Klamath Lake.

Following an at times contentious meeting between KID's board of directors and Bureau of Reclamation on Monday, KID's attorney Nathan Reitmann wrote a letter on Tuesday, April 24, asking the state agency take control of managing water distribution from Upper Klamath Lake into the A canal.

Reitmann's letter is addressed to Klamath Falls Watermaster Dani Watson, and asks for 350 cubic feet of water per second distributed from the lake to KID through the A canal. The canal feeds the KID distribution system.


KID also asks OWRD to reduce flows at Link River Dam. That was done by the BOR on Thursday. PacifiCorp — the electric utility has an operation agreement with the BOR (which owns the dam) — said flows at Link River will decrease to 400 cfs from 1,600 cfs by Monday. The release mostly satisfies KID's demand made to OWRD on Tuesday, but the letter could still warrant action after 10,500 acre feet of water borrowed from PacifiCorp is fully utilized, according to KID's legal counsel.

“We're simply asking the Oregon Water Resources Department to enforce our water rights, in accordance with the law,” Reitmann said. “They're only required to intervene when someone complains,” Reitmann added. “We don't know what their answer is yet.”

Reitmann said KID and OWRD are in discussions about the issue.

Racquel Rancier, senior policy coordinator and spokesperson for OWRD, wrote in an email Friday the agency is reviewing the request.

“These issues are complex and OWRD is continuing to evaluate their requests as expeditiously as possible,” Rancier said.


Rancier said she could not confirm if KID's request is legal.

In legal terms, KID is asking Reclamation to seek a stay of the state's Amended and Corrected Final Order of Determination and/or to obtain water from other sources to meet federal requirements of the Endangered Species Act. Reitmann believes the demand is legal and referenced two Oregon state statutes to back him up. Rread the full letter written by Reitmann at www.heraldandnews.com).

“Naturally, if BOR fails to promptly seek a stay of the ACFOD or does not secure water from other sources to meet its ESA requirements, KID will ask OWRD to more fully enforce its rights under the ACFOD,” Reitmann said in the letter.

Reitmann requested an immediate response to the request at first, but the reduction in water through Link River by Reclamation and PacifiCorp satisfies KID's request for now, he said. That could change after water borrowed from PacifiCorp has been fully utilized and irrigation season ramps up.

“All Reclamation can do is wait and see what happens,” said Laura Williams, spokesperson for Reclamation's Klamath Basin Area Office. “We work really closely with the district and we'll continue to do that.”



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