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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Klamath farmers stand in the way of progress

High Country News letter by Rich McIntyre
posted to KBC 10/13/04

FOLLOWED BY related links

Tim Holt's column on the Klamath Basin makes some excellent points,
but misses two of the keys (HCN, 9/13/04: Failure of leadership, not a
lack of water, dooms the Klamath).

Any rational person familiar with the situation understands that demand
reduction is key to rebalancing water in the basin. Gross overallocation
of water by the federal government and states is at the heart of the
problem. As important is new water storage and access to historical
spawning habitat for endangered Lost River and shortnosed suckers in and
adjacent to Upper Klamath Lake.

However, each time a bipartisan opportunity has arisen to jointly
address demand reduction, new storage, and water quality improvement,
the Klamath Water Users Association has pulled political strings to kill
it. The association has also worked diligently behind the scenes to try
to kill the one new water-storage project that has the support of nearly
everyone: The 2,800 acre Barnes Ranch, diked and drained decades ago,
can be reopened to Upper Klamath Lake. By doing so, historical spawning
habitat for endangered species will be made available, and up to 50,000
acre-feet of water can be stored for myriad uses.

Why the resistance to opening Barnes Ranch? Is it because the
irrigators have been unsuccessful in securing agreements for all the
stored water to go to farmers in the Klamath Project? Is it because they
have their own pet storage project that the Bureau of Reclamation has
already said is unrealistic and would cost upwards of three-quarters of
a billion dollars? Is it because it represents 2,800 fewer acres that
will be grazed? Or could it be that the water users association is
perfectly happy with a status quo that gives them almost everything they

The triad of demand reduction, water-quality improvement, and new
storage like Barnes Ranch has always been the answer for the Klamath
Basin. The reason why it is not happening is increasingly apparent as

Rich McIntyre

Related Links:

For more info on Barnes, Long Lake and McIntyre, go to our STORAGE page.
WaterWatch past vice-president Rich McIntyre is also American Land Conservancy (ALC) counselor, advocating instead for government purchase of Barnes property, the cost being $9.1 million, commission going to ALC.
* 94,549acres of ag land has been converted to wetlands in the guise of 'saving water' and 'storage', and how much water it has depleted.

* "Wearing many hats seems quite the norm anymore,"  as submitted on our Discussion Forum by Buster Keester, regarding Rich McIntyre, 9/22/03. This was sent regarding McIntyre's threat to sue KBC, also included in that link.
Rich McIntyre and the Barnes Ranch proposal September 18, 2003, by KBC including Audio
* Barnes Ranch won't work for water storage, by Barnes' neighbor Paul Little, 11/13/03. KBC transcript from video
* Letters to Oregon Senator Gordon Smith, signed by Klamath County  Commissioners John Elliott and Al Switzer, posted to KBC 3/25/04. Our commissioners support the study of Long Lake water storage, for a potential of 300,000AF cold water not requiring a dam. WaterWatch does not support the study. "WaterWatch continues to advocate for purchase of farmland as a means of addressing the Klamath water crisis...A shift from farmland to wetlands will increase average water use per acre by more than 1 acre-foot." "...(this) would leave less water in the system for downstream uses"






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