Bureau to release Klamath water pulse Friday
Herald and News 2/10/17
Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath
River, owned by PacifiCorp...will see increased flows starting
Friday to flush out the lower Klamath River.
Bureau of Reclamation will increase flows below Iron Gate
Dam in California to reduce the risk of disease for coho
salmon in the Klamath River, according to an agency press
Locally, the Link River dam will also be increasing flows
starting at noon Friday. Water levels are expected to rise
along the Link River down to Keno. The public is advised to
use caution around the river banks.
Starting Friday through Monday, flows below Iron Gate Dam
will be elevated; increasing from approximately 4,000 cubic
feet per second to as much as 9,600 cfs. The public is urged
to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while
flows are high during this period.
releases are in response to a federal court order and
lawsuit filed by downstream tribes and environmental groups.
Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick ordered
Reclamation to implement “winter-spring flushing flows
designed to dislodge and flush out polychaete worms that
host C. shasta.” The worms are known to have caused large
fish kills in the river.
increased flow is consistent with Judge Orrick’s order and
was planned in coordination with the National Marine
Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the
Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley and Klamath tribes, Klamath
Project water users, state and other fisheries experts, and
PacifiCorp (the hydroelectric dam owners).
“Reclamation is implementing the increased flow at this time
to take advantage of the current hydrologic (rain and snow)
conditions throughout the Klamath Basin,” the release said.
Upper Klamath Lake is about 70 percent full, the Bureau
“Pairing increased flow events with natural high flow
hydrologic events maximizes the potential benefits and
effectiveness of the event while reducing the amount of
water required out of Upper Klamath Lake, which reduces
potential for negative impacts to the overall water supply
and endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers in Upper
Meanwhile, state Rep. Werner Reschke, R-Klamath Falls,
weighed in on the judge’s ruling.
“Today’s ruling brings concern for what harm this will do to
farmers and irrigators in the Klamath Basin. Flushing extra
water downstream is based on biological science still being
determined by agencies. The balance the Endangered Species
Act was expected to bring about has been misplaced.
decision will be subject to appeal and it highlights the
significance of the pending ‘Takings Case,’ currently before
the U.S. Federal Court of Claims in Washington D.C.”
federal government will be forced to re-consult on the
immediate aspect of the 2013 Biological Opinion for the
protection of Coho salmon,” Reschke said. “This decision
established a very poor precedent for the re-consultation.”
on current hydrologic conditions, there is high confidence
that water used out of Upper Klamath Lake for these flows
will be replenished quickly through inflows that are
occurring into the lake, the Bureau press release said.
Beginning at about noon, flows will begin increasing from
about 4,000 cfs to about 9,600 cfs at 9 a.m. Saturday. Flows
will remain at this high level for approximately 24 hours.
After that, flows will ramp down to about 6,000 cfs during
the next 24 hours, where they are anticipated to remain
until about 2 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14.
this approximately three-day event, flows will return to
levels calculated in accordance with the 2013 Biological
Opinion on operation of the Klamath Project.
“Reclamation recognizes that every acre-foot of water in the
Klamath River Basin is extremely valuable and of limited
supply, and we are making every effort to optimize the water
released for fish health purposes to reduce disease among
Klamath River salmonid species while balancing other
demands,” said Jeff Nettleton, Reclamation’s Klamath Basin
Reclamation will continue to work with National Marine
Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other
fisheries experts and Klamath Basin stakeholders to comply
with the order and applicable provisions of the Endangered
Species Act while upholding contractual obligations to
Klamath Project water users.
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