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

 Klamath County Commissioner Steve West brings common sense, and
Dr. Ken Rykbost shares Hardy flaws with Fishery group in Yreka

KBC news report 11/9/03

YREKA, CA October 23  The Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force had some controversial issues on the agenda, and a roomful of folks in the audience to put in their 2 bits worth.

The first issue of concern was Congressman Herger's decision to try to disband the Klamath Fishery Management Council. This  council sets the number of fish that can be taken each year by fishermen.

Statements from the task force unveiled the elevated emotions of the group:
    "I think eliminating the counsel without any good reason is not a good idea"
     "It's one thing to say, 'do what you're supposed to do,', but it's another thing to say, 'you're not going to do anything
      anymore.'

Steve West, Klamath County Commissioner, said, "The Congressman is sending a very strong message there would be a great deal of importance for the council members if they value the counsel as much as I'm hearing they are, to try to get that dialogue going with Congressman Herger's office if perhaps there is an opportunity to get this resolved in a less permanent fashion."

Apparently the task force sent a statement in 2002 blaming the Klamath Project Irrigators for the Trinity-fish die-off, which was not their task or their expertise.  West did not feel that Herger should be attacked by the group without having copies of his letter or his reasons for trying to decommission the group. No letter from Herger was provided.

The Coastal Fishermen feel that without this forum, they will have no voice to air their issues.  Many feel that the representation is on the side of environmentalists, tribes and agencies and little on the side of farmers and ranchers who live on the land.
Dr. Ken Rykbost presented a Power Point presentation, exposing flaws in the Hardy flow reports. (HERE for Dr. Rykbost biography.) He has been superintendent of the Oregon State University Klamath experiment station for the past 17 years. Rykbost has been employed by OSU for 28 years, and works with the ag community in South Central Oregon. He had a Bachelor's and a Master's degree from Cornell University in agronomy, which is the study of crops and soils, and he completed a Ph. D. in Department of Soil Science at Oregon State University in 1973, with a minor in civil engineering, particularly in relation to the hydrology and water quality issues, and those kinds of things.

Before the presentation, Mike Belchik, Yurok Tribes biologist, made available to everyone a letter devaluing Dr Rykbost, and did not sign his name to it.  Commissioner West made it clear that this sort of anonymous slandering was unacceptable and should never happen again.  Belchik defensively owned up to his rude behavior.


Dr. Hardy

When Rykbost was scheduled to give his presentation, there were many people bringing up every reason they felt that the presentation should be invalid. Some felt that is should not have been on KBC, and others felt he was not qualified to relate these simple facts that are readily available on internet links. One had the nerve to say that his study was not reviewed, even though the agricultural community was denied a place at the table when Hardy produced his report that has shut down the Klamath Project, which was not peer-reviewed and was flawed.

Rykbost began, "In the last ten years the background that I came from,, which is agronomy, has become a lot less important to my constituents because, without water, we don't have crops....I do not consider myself a hydrologist, but I am a scientist, I've been working with data for 40 years, and some of these things aren't that complicated in terms of looking at empirical data and drawing some conclusions..."

 
The flows Hardy used were based on 1905 - 1912 from Keno to estimate the Upper Basin flows. The (BOR) Bureau of Reclamation estimated inflow to UKL (Upper Klamath Lake) to be 34% above normal in 1905-1912. There was only a 4% correction made: "The period that was used as a baseline for Balanced Hydrologics  is this period from 1905-1912 which is probably the longest 8-year stretch with the longest above-normal rainfall during that 100-year period" Flows were 400,000AF above normal.

Historically, Tulelake was a large lake, 20'-40' deep. There was no railroad blocking flows back into the basin, and the Lost River Slough wasn't dammed.  Neither of these facts were mentioned in the Balanced Hydrologics Report or either Hardy Reports. "Those 2 lakes, Tulelake and Lower Klamath, at times of high precipitation, 150,000 acres of open water surface, at 3 AF/acre evaporation rate, those evaporated....the same amount of water as are diverted into the Klamath Reclamation Project today.

 What was once a closed basin now contributes in some years water to the Klamath River."
"The flows into the Project average 450,000AF. The total volume at the mouth (of the Klamath) is about 13 million AF...If you look at 450,000AF and compare it to the flows at the mouth, it represents about 3.4% ...

Iron Gate dam flows have decreased significantly, mainly from the Williamson River, which accounts for 46% of inflow to UK. The watershed has declined relative to precipitation.

For Hardy summer flow targets, "The total flow required by Hardy Phase II is about 380,000 AF, which is 14,0000AF more than the project has typically produced.

Following the presentation were questions for Dr. Rykbost:

Q. Would you comment on a possible correlation of the increase in wetlands above Klamath Lake (KL) and adjacent to UK (Upper Klamath Lake) and the possible correlation between that and the reduction in flow of the Williamson River has been about 90,000 acres of wetlands restored above the lake.?"

A. "The Nature Conservancy claim they aren't holding more water in Sycan Marsh than held there previously. I did get a tour of areas above Williamson River Marsh a couple years ago in June and I saw a big meadow that had several windmills ...and they were standing in water and I was told that those windmills were there to draw groundwater for cattle.  And now some changes in that Wood River March area have resulted in more water being impounded in areas which were typically grazed and were now inundated at best part of the year."

Q. What is the normal accepted evapo-transpiration from emergent wetlands on that area?"

A. Evapo-transpiration depends on vegetation., but is typically 3-3 1/2 AF per year. "Converting agricultural property to wetlands in most cases is gong to increase water use."

Q. Explain a chart.

A. "The Klamath Project is being expected to solve the problems in the lower river with 450,000AF of water, and we aren't going to be able to do that.  And this recent study that the BOR is about to finalize suggests that in '92 and '94, the flow at Link River dam would have been zero in midsummer.

After Dr. Rykbost sat down,  attacks began when he was not invited to respond:

Mike Belchik commented, "Scientific dialogue can happen in a more constructive way than dueling power points and trading fact sheets and things like that."

Glen Spain of PCFFA states that although its true the Klamath Project quit growing , "irrigated ag in the Upper Basin continues to expand outside the project....that is probably one of the causes of reduced flow to the lake and the Project itself because there are increasing withdrawals above the project and increasing number of groundwater permits still being issued in a basin that is clearly over appropriated by the Oregon Water Resource Department (OWRD) that are still considering issuing permits.  .." (go HERE to see how much land has been taken out of agriculture and flooded for wetlands which evaporates.)

Commissioner West asked the chairman to invite OWRD to the next meeting to answer Spain's accusation of over-appropriating.

Marty Macy, President of Tulelake Growers Association and Tulelake Farmer: In 2001, we got no water..."In 2001, the refuge, through our efforts, received at least 80% of the water it needed for habitat, and that is a collaborative effort....We are at the forefront of technology...using less water... and sprinklers..."

Dr. Doug Whitsett, President of Water for Life: "...Spain's allegation that the increased flood irrigation above the lake may not be appropriate because this study (USGS) shows clearly that the more flood irrigation has been expanded, the more flow in the Sprague River in August and late September."

Felice Pace, Klamath Forest Alliance: "The water has been supplied to the refuges by agriculture primarily by wells that have been drilled by the State of California with taxpayers money given to these folks.  It's all been paid for at market rates, so thank you ag for selling water to the refuges.

|Note from KBC: The comment from Mr. Pace is false.  Tulelake Irrigation District was given money from the State of California to drill emergency wells to plant cover crops, so the soil wouldn't completely blow away in 2001 when the farmland and refuges were deprived of  water. TID was not paid to pump water into the refuge.  TID did not pump their wells directly into the refuge, and they were not paid. Mr. Pace also forgets  that when the farmers get water, the refuges get water, because all of the farm run-off goes into the refuge.  In 2001 farmers pumped their own wells, at their own expense, into the refuge to save what wildlife had not died from the shut-off.}

Dr Hardy has been contracted by the Department of Justice to write Hardy Phase 3 for the Klamath watershed.
 

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