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Klamath Irrigation District Manager responds to the question, "How much water was illegally taken from Project irrigators and sent to the ocean this year?"

NOTE FROM KBC: Here is a link to KID's lawsuit against OWRD/Oregon Water Resources Department: Klamath Irrigation District scores victory in water rights case, Capital Press 8/7/2020. "No party has provided this court with law or fact which allows the bureau the right to use stored water in the (Upper Klamath Lake) without a permit or license,” Bennett wrote in his opinion. “OWRD’s failure is a deprivation of a precious resource belonging to the people of Oregon. OWRD failure is also an infringement of property rights of established users, permittees and licensees.”

The following is in response to a question from KBC News for Klamath Irrigation District Manager Gene Souza, "How much water was illegally taken from Project irrigators and sent to the ocean this year?"

Souza's response:


On 10 April 2020 UKL elevation reached 4142.11 feet above sea level.  By Reclamation calculations, this is 453,897 acre feet of stored water in UKL available for irrigation.

Between 1 April and 8 September inflow into UKL is calculated at 211,472 acre feet which is available to the Project irrigators.

This means 665,369 acre feet of water has been available at the A Canal Headworks for the Klamath Project use.

Assuming KID and other irrigators diverted LIVE FLOW first (before diverting stored water)

Assuming (to the benefit of OWRD and Reclamation) 1000 acre feet evaporated from storage per day since 1 April (highly unlikely) (160 days = 160,000 acre feet)

On 8 September Project irrigators diverted 141,008 acre feet from UKL…and (to the benefit of OWRD and Reclamation) other irrigators and Reclamation diverted the remainder of live flow (70,464 acre feet)

On 8 September, the UKL elevation was 4138.68 (or 181,004 acre feet of storage)

Assuming PacfiCorps has a pre-1909 water right to 200 cfs (or 63,471 acre feet) – their 1950s water right is subservient to irrigation water and ONLY for water not needed for irrigation.

And assuming Project diversions will not exceed live flow for the remainder of the year…THEN

The math is as follows.

453,897 acre feet of stored water on 8 April

-160,000 evaporation (this is likely 80,000 more than actually occurred, but no possible way to measure)

-63,471 PacifiCorps Water right equal or greater than the Project

-181,004 acre feet of remaining stored water on 8 September

Then…at a MINIMUM  49,422 acre feet of water was illegally released before 8 September…

If I had the evaporation tables handy, or a way to measure other irrigator’s diversions, I speculate the amount is closer to 129,000 acre feet (49,000 + 80,000 evaporation."

-Gene Souza

P.S. "Contrary to rumor and speculation, Klamath Irrigation District is not pursuing a course which eliminates flows to the Klamath River.  In all communications, with numerous parties, we have made it clear we encourage the Federal government to follow the system of laws established by our elected leaders which allow for a legal solution and provides opportunities."



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