Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
The final day of the scientists
2/6/04, by KBC Today was the final day of the government agency's and scientist's meeting at the Shilo Inn. The scientists had shared their research all week and the audience asked questions. Now the regional managers of USFWS, Steve Thompson, BOR Kirk Rogers, with Frank Shipley USGS, and Bill Sexton, were asking the scientists questions. Now what? The Bush Administration cares, they see the mess and want to help. Can you help us find a solution, soon?
After hearing dozens of power points
and intensive, hardcore s c i e n c e all week, to
reiterate what I learned from the scientists I
Reviewing the needs expressed by
most every scientist and bureaucrat, are:
How many times has the government spent millions of dollars on a 'solution', and they spend the rest of the time trying to prove they made the right decision? No one, especially the local agricultural community, wants to see that again. As brought up here and at the spring tour of the Upper Basin, there are over 94,000 acres that have been converted from agriculture to wetlands, and there is a lot of concern that is does not help fish, decreases water quality and certainly decreases water storage due to evapo-transpiration. Not to mention, it has devastated much of our local economy regarding the cattle industry and associated businesses.
Dennis Lynch, USGS, stressed the importance of good data. They need more gauges and flow testing and weather forecasting equipment in more places. He expressed that we need to gain more knowledge regarding our over-pumped aquifer, and warned about unintended consequences. Lynch reminded the room that the water bank will demand from the irrigators over 100,000 acre feet next summer, and our aquifer should not be so taxed without more data. Use this resource in an emergency but do not negligently deplete the supply.
Lynch also said, we don't know how wetlands work. What happens if we take berms down--what happens to the water quality. Trans-evaporation has not been well-measured. Get more data. More gauges, study springs, get good and long-term data. Keep measuring external loads. What caused algae bloom to crash?
The director of Oregon Water Resource Department Doug Woodcock said that ground water augmentation should not happen every year, but maybe every few years in drought times. There needs to be research and coordination.
Art Daggett, Governor Swarzeneggar's head of California Resource board, recognized that the key is data and monitoring. We need united monitoring efforts, and we need to gain expert success. He reiterated the need for science-based solutions.
Steve Thompson, USFWS California/Nevada Manager, asked of the scientists, "Do we know enough now to get science from you to make solution recommendations?" He also recognized that we need local solutions that will work.
Kirk Rogers, regional director of Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) was asking for solutions too. President Bush wants to see Klamath Basin whole, with environmental and social solutions, and there is an opportunity to try to repair the damaged basin now. Thompson asked what social scientists are here. I think that component was missing.
In response to the director's question was Marshall. Any strategy needs to have built in the ability to adapt as information changes or becomes better. He referred to remodeling a kitchen, and when you rip out the floor you find dry rot. It needs to be flexible.
In a brief conversation with Kirk Rogers, I told him my concerns with a week of hearing how we should not jump into any permanent solutions without better monitoring of the actions we have already taken (my thoughts were: massive wetland restoration, extreme pumping of our untested aquifer, land acquisition). He referred to Marshal's ideal strategy of being able to adapt to new information. I suggested that this is not happening now since we are not being allowed to reconsult. He said that we can reconsult. I said that we've been told that it will take a year or two before we are allowed re-consultation. He said we can re-consult soon if we get new data. I said that the NRC (National Resource Committee) final report, the 'best available science' said that lake level/river management is not justified (Steve Lewis of the NRC even came Tuesday to explain why this is a sound conclusion.) Rogers said that the NRC information does not address the down-river science. I explained that Dr. Hardy 'science' was not sound (or peer reviewed or the best available science) that calls for 100,000 acre feet of our stored water next year regardless of year type, 75,000 AF this year. I think the bell rang then or something, and the break was over.
conclusions by scientists described everything that
has been lacking in the Klamath Basin Crisis:
Our hope is that the managers, leaders, and government agencies will quit trying to prove that past misconceptions and 'solutions' were helpful and now listen to the scientists. And look at the effect that their actions will have, not only on the fish, water, and ecosystem, but also on the community. Anyone can say, here is 50 million dollars, see, we are fixing your problem. But it is when the leaders can say, we spent 50 million dollars, here is the data and the accessible, public data-base by independent scientists collaborating, and with no agenda. Here is the data showing how this can work for fish, water quality, and the entire community, are here is the data showing how and why this has worked in the past. And all of the government agencies, stakeholders, and local groups will be on the same page. As evidenced in the speech Thursday regarding the Robust Redhorse fish by Cecil Jennings, a collaboration with data opened to the public, meetings opened to the public, input by everyone. Lest we forget. Lest we live another 2001, 2002, or 2003 in the Klamath Basin with no certainty for agriculture.
And if we are not given certainty of water deliveries to our crops while the agencies make unreasonable demands of the irrigator's stored water as they look for 'solutions', the verdict is death to our agricultural community.
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