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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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May be an image of 1 personCongressman LaMalfa Introduces the ‘Protect Our Water Rights’ Act

with responses by founder of Klamath Forest Alliance and Sierra Club Water Resource Chair Felice Pace, Klamath Irrigation District Manager and Executive Director Gene Souza, and Siskiyou County Water Users Association Board Member Chrissie Reynolds

Press Release Jan 11, 2023

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R – Richvale) introduced H.R. 289, the Protect Our Water Rights (POWR) Act. This bill will give certainty to agriculture producers and irrigators during dry years and hold the Bureau of Reclamation accountable for proper water delivery.

“Building water storage, delivering irrigators their water that is lawfully theirs, and ensuring fresh water is not wasted are the priorities of rural California. This is especially critical in California agriculture, where severe water mismanagement has exacerbated the crippling drought. Responsible water management means higher food production and lower prices for all Americans, while keeping farmers in business. I’m looking forward to passing this bill and protecting our water rights,” said Congressman LaMalfa.

This bill:

  • Mandates 100% contract water deliveries to water districts by Reclamation in normal or above normal precipitation years and guarantees additional water in dry years.
  • Require in-person field briefings and outreach, in each county where a Central Valley Project (CVP) water contractor is located, after Reclamation’s initial allocation announcements and before the allocation announcement for April is made.
  • Reduces or eliminates the operation and maintenance (O&M) payments required to be paid by CVP water contractors, based on reductions in water allocations.
  • Requires the Bureau of Reclamation to assess and report on what debt is still owed by the irrigators of the Klamath Project.
  • Prohibits the Bureau of Reclamation from releasing stored water created by the Klamath Project in Upper Klamath Lake, except for agricultural and refuge purposes associated with State-adjudicated water rights, and to otherwise maximize total storage volume in Upper Klamath Lake.


Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba Counties.
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Responses by Felice Pace, KFA, Chrissie Reynolds, Copco Lake resident, and Gene Souza, 

Felice Pace
/Felice Pace (right) and Petey Brucker.  
"Why do you want to kill our rivers and our fish? We need a balance of water for Ag and water to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and fisheries."

KBC NOTE: A little bio and history: Felice Pace is Water Resources Chair for the Sierra Club, Redwood Chapter. In the late 70's, he and Petey Brucker came out west from back east to 'help' our forests. They created KFA/Klamath Forest Alliance and were instrumental in stopping most of the timber harvest in Siskiyou County, to save spotted owls; the unthinned forests' wildfires ended much spotted owl habitat.  https://klamathforestalliance.org/about-us/kfa-history/  They became a non-profit and formed other groups. Pace through KFA created Klamath Riverkeeper, so KFA was an umbrella group for KR/Klamath Riverkeeper, helping KR obtain it's non-profit, which is now a stand-alone NGO that can receive tax-free funds to sue power companies and Klamath resource users.   

Craig Tucker is Karuk Tribe spokesman. He was on the steering committee of KR/Klamath Riverkeeper before it spun off from umbrella group Klamath Forest Alliance, and was on the KR board.  KBRA/Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (which offered some water to Klamath irrigators with mandate of Klamath Dam destruction) participants, including Karuk tribe, agreed not to sue other participants. So several Karuks formed KR, and KR sued all sorts of groups to get the outcome of dam removal


Chrissie Ishida Reynolds, resident of Copco Lake community near Copco Dam, knows benefits of keeping Klamath dams and the horrific results of dam removal.
Response to Felice Pace I don't want to kill the fish. I want to save the perch, crappie, large and small mouth bass, the mudhead catfish, channel cats, suckerfish, western pond turtles, mussels and clams, the pumpkinseed and bluegill, the summer resting place of the white pelicans and the last remaining reservoirs for the Pacific flyway and the best fire suppression for not only our community but for the county. These lakes saved my life and the lives of many people and have been used annually for fire fighting. All this goes away. Right now we can fish below the dams for salmon, steelhead and above for trout. In the middle there is a whole freshwater ecosystem in place. These dams protect the rest of the water shed from the algae that will free flow all the way down not stopping the polychaete from wiping things out worse. These lakes actually help with flushing flow releases, saved the lives of many ducks from botulism in the basin and are home to several endangered and threatened species of fish, birds and mammals as well as reptiles and amphibians. There are other solutions for balance besides dam destruction which endangers human life. Whoosh technologies, Shasta bypass tunnel. All of which have been ignored and disregarded for the single species single agenda of dam destruction. It also means that as soon as those flows are gone, they will be looking to the Scott and Shasta River to make up those flows and everyone in the valley will be asked to take shorter showers, not do laundry, not water their gardens or their fields because there won't be enough water. Then all of the surface water will be cut off so that only "efficient" water will be distributed and that hurts groundwater recharge and wildlife that depend on the open water. You have only to look at the basin and see the devastation to waterfowl. I don't want to kill our fish. I'm trying to protect them, and our home, our community, our way of life and our national security by protecting food production. I also didn't like the secret backroom meetings, the phony science, the bypassing of Congress, the biased media coverage, the false and misleading headlines and storylines and putting the pricetag on the backs of rate payers and tax payers with no concern to how much this is going to cost as well as the underestimated amount of sedimentation and old outdated precovid costs without there ever having been a true cost to benefit analysis and only special interest stakeholders being at the table completely ignoring the will of the local Governments from both states. No two states are supposed to enter into agreement without the consent of Congress. Cheating, lying, and bullying have been the tactics from the beginning. It's not about killing anything except exposing corruption. If this were the right thing to do, none of those tactics would have been necessary. If it were really a good thing anyone could see that. Unfortunately most people can only see the headlines and the news clips. And if those are manipulative then they aren't getting the full story. We live in an upside down river system that get cleaner and colder as it goes down. These reservoirs act as natural filtering systems and provide a plethora of wildlife refuge. Fires have crossed rivers and creeks recently. They didn't jump reservoirs.

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Response to Felice Pace from Gene Souza, Manager and Executive Director of Klamath Irrigation District and board member of Klamath Water Users Association

Felice Pace have you read the resolution? As I read it, the language looks reasonable, equitable, and promotes restoring water to the historic places it came from...namely the refuges in the Klamath and protects unnaturally high releases of water from Upper Klamath Lake.

(C) the Secretary’s obligation to make water available to managed wetlands pursuant to section 3406(d) of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, (Public Law 102–575).


When operating the Klamath River Basin Reclamation Project, the Secretary, in accordance with State-adjudicated water rights, shall—

(1) operate all water in Upper Klamath Lake above elevation 4136.0 feet solely for agricultural and refuge purposes; and

(2) to the extent practicable when operating all water in Upper Klamath Lake in accordance with paragraph (1), maximize storage in the Upper Klamath Lake.






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