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WARNING! BOR releases Undepleted Natural Flow Study

·        Be Afraid! Be Very Very Afraid


By Pat Ratliff , Klamath Courier December 14, 2005 Pg B6


(Rae Olson, Bureau of Reclamation Public Affairs Officer, describes the Bureau's Natural Flow Study, written for KBC 12/19/05)


Well, the wait is over.  After a lot of years and probably a few million dollars, the Bureau of Reclamation has released the final report entitled the Undepleted Natural Flow Study of the Upper Klamath River.


The report, at 115 pages and a separate appendice at 161 pages is just a little long for us to print in its entirety.  The report can be viewed at www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/


The report has been long awaited in the Klamath Basin, meant to show the amount of water flowing down the Klamath River before the project and other diversions occurred starting in the early 1900’s.


There is a 60 day review period before this report becomes finalized.  I highly recommend everyone read it and let the powers that be know your thoughts on it.


I can’t give you a detailed report of what it says or means yet, it’s going to rake a while to read and digest it all.  I will give a warning though.  I was expecting a scientific report, with scientific conclusions.  I admit I have an untrained eye, but I was appalled at what I saw.  I started jotting down phrases that caught my eye.  Admittedly, these are out of context.  They are presented to you, in fact, with no context.


In the first 29 pages of the report, I came across these words or phrases.  They do not give me confidence in the results of this study.  Read these and see what you think.  Words in parenthesis are mine.


“Estimation techniques” (Do we get more money if we guess high or low?)


“Unpublished scientific reports” (I could crank out a few of those in a week if you need more.)


“Solution of estimating the natural flow conditions” (Why wasn’t this called an estimating report?)


“Some of these factors were considered, but are unaccounted for in the assessment” (Why?  Someone on vacation?)


“Additional concerns have arisen in completing the work.” (Next time, let’s try and work through these too before we finish the report.)


“Relationships regarding the significance of uncertainty.” (One of my favorites . . . who could make this stuff up?  Give the guy a raise!)


“Model sensitivity is related to uncertainty in data”  (Well . . . duh.)


“Forest practices were also considered but not accounted for in developing natural flows”  (So you didn’t want to include all that forestry muckety-muck, that makes sense.)


“Unmeasured tributary inflow”  (Did you need a few more years and a few more million dollars?)


“Changes to the natural conditions of Upper Klamath Lake were evaluated by estimating vegetation around the lake”  (See that old limb in the water?  I’ll bet there was a tree here once.)


“Key assumptions”  (You know what happens when you assume.)


“Assumed to be adequately understood”  (I really doubt it.)


“Probably”  (Probably?  In a scientific report?  Does “probably” count for best available science?)


“Assessment of the effect of this pumping on streamflow and inflow to Upper Klamath Lake was not assessed in this study”  (We’ll put you on at time and a half for a few years to let you complete the FINAL final report.  That’s the one before the FINAL, FINAL, FINAL report.)


“Apparently reasonable assumption”  (I won’t even go there.)


“The changes in Sycan Marsh from it’s natural condition are difficult to assess because information regarding irrigation developments in Sycan Marsh is unavailable”  (Uh, maybe you missed report writing 101, but it tells how you actually GO THERE, and look at what is in the marsh.)


“The consequence of these wells on groundwater discharge to Upper Klamath Lake from the regional aquifer is difficult to access and was not determined”  (OK, we’ll give you all the money you want, just finish the damned report.)


“Most probable estimates”  (Are we cutting cards or throwing dice to determine this?)


They also used the word “may” a lot.  May doesn’t seem very scientific to me.


This report MAY be scientific.


The Bureau of Reclamation MAY not be able to know the validity of any of the statements or conclusions of this report.


The head writer of this report MAY have had monkeys fly out of his butt.


See what I mean?  MAY can mean just about anything.  Maybe it’s just me, but that word doesn’t sound very scientific.  I’d gladly tell the government what MAY be, and I’ll do it for a thousand bucks less that the BOR’s final bill.


The draft report has been submitted for review to scientists associated with the numerous interests in the Klamath Basin, and has also asked Chicago-based Argonne National Laboratories to provide an independent evaluation of the report.


Let’s see what they say.


All in all, I’d have to give this report a thumbs down.  We paid for it, and we deserve better.


There are a lot of good people at the BOR.  I certainly don’t mean to discredit them.  I just feel that when agencies put out a load of bull like this, it not only inflames the public, but brings down those who are doing good work there.  They deserve better also.




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