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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
 

 January 27, 2006

Dear (KBC):
I am responding to your recent letter posing numerous questions for the Klamath Project.
Let me know if we can be of further assistance.
Rae Olsen
Public Affairs Officer
Klamath Basin Area Office
U. S. Bureau of Reclamation
6600 Washburn
Klamath Falls, OR  97603
 

Questions for Bureau of Reclamation by several people, irrigation districts, and groups of Klamath Project Irrigators
January 13, 2006

Thank you for your attention to these questions by Klamath Project Irrigators and Irrigation Districts. We will post the questions and your forthcoming answers on www.klamathbasincrisis.org website.

1. An irrigation district hired an attorney to write a letter to the Klamath Bureau of Reclamation office February 2005 regarding lease land revenues. This was followed up by a letter from the irrigation district June 2005 reminding the Bureau of the attorney's letter and also asking questions about reserve works. The response from the Bureau came December 15, 2005 to schedule a meeting after Jan 1, 2006 regarding the letters from last February and June. How can individuals and districts get timely response from the Bureau?

Reclamation has limited personnel to research this type of request, which spanned a number of years, and several sections of our budget. This information has also been under review by our Regional Office in the reconciliation of accounts for the Project as a whole, making the review process more cumbersome. If districts or individuals would ask for more specific information in smaller quantities, it would allow Reclamation to respond in a more timely manner.

2. It takes the Bureau weeks to process power requests from farmers. How can this problem be corrected?

The process has been streamlined, and Reclamation is completing the process faster than in the past. Reclamation responds as quickly as staff time allows.

3. How many people work in the Bureau's Klamath Area Office?

There are currently 33 employees including engineering technicians, Project maintenance staff, hydrologists, environmental specialists, water conservation specialists, biologists, managers and a small administrative staff.

4. In the questions we asked you in September 2005, you said that the next CIP (Conservation Implementation Program) draft would be out to the public in December of 2005, which to our knowledge did not happen. When do you now expect this to go out to the public?

The third drat will be available the first week of February on our website.

5. CIP began a few years ago. When can we expect the final document?

The final document, after public circulation as described above, will be completed in a meeting of interested parties facilitated by a team of organization development specialists in the spring of 2006.

This will be a dynamic document supporting an active and evolving restoration program. As the program evolves over a period of years, the document will also change and adapt.

6. When are the first CIP practices going to be recognized?

Question not clear.

7. What are the CIP practices that will be implemented in 2006?

1. Organizational Development Contract Coordination.

2. Continued Natural Flow Study with NAS.

3. Continued funding of salmon disease studies.

4. Others to be determined.

6. How much money was allocated to the CIP process?

There is no CIP line item. Funding has come from the fish and wildlife management and development account.

7. What have been the CIP expenditures to date; how much money for what expenditures?

A current list of items funded by the CIP includes:

Chadwick (5 meetings at $5000 each) - $25,000
Contract to hire an organizational development specialist - $120,000
50% of Water Master for Shasta/Scott for two years - $280,000
Continuation of the Salmon River gauge - $80,000
Data base pilot work, two years, $150,000
Spring run Chinook genetic study - $29,000
Radio Telemetry, Chinook - $37,000
Shasta/Scott groundwater study completion - $15,000
Oregon Water Resources support - $20,000
USI environmental conflict resolution - $50,600
Delay in Hardy study due to natural flow study - $18,000
NAS Study of Hardy/natural flow - $585,637
Contributed to 5-year sucker review - $20,000
Econ model update BOR Denver - $110,000
Completion of Natural Flow Study - $750,000

8. We have been told that Dr. Tom Hardy was paid with CIP funds to perform some scientific studies. How much was he paid and what service did he perform.

Dr. Hardy was paid $18,000 (noted above). He was unable to complete his DOJ contract within the allotted contract time because of delays in the Natural Flow Study.

9. What is the timeline for a complete accounting of BOR operations in Klamath?

The accounting cycle for Operations and Maintenance the previous calendar year is completed in the following February.

10. What is the current year to date detail of reimbursable costs in the Klamath Project?

I donít understand the question.

11. What is the BOR emergency number to call on weekends? (not including 911)

541-885-9443, 541-281-2849, 541-892-6383

12. It is our understanding the Bureau helped fund the Chadwick facilitator training in Yreka as well as previous sessions. How many people were trained to be consensus facilitators?

Neither Reclamation nor CIP funds were expended for this purpose. You would have to contact Chadwick for the number of participants.

13. In December the Chadwick group was scheduled to meet to begin planning a Klamath Congress. Planning dam removal, water demand reduction, Tribal land acquisition, etc were some of the goals of the group. What is the current status of Chadwickís Klamath Congress and planned meetings?

We do not know the agenda of the Chadwick group. It is a citizenís involvement organization that operates at the direction of its members. Contact Terry Morton or Bob Chadwick.

14. Is the Bureau still funding the Chadwick group? If not, who is?

No. You will have to ask them.

15. We understand that the NAS will be reviewing the Natural Flow Study. Is this all that they will be looking at or is it a broader review? 

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will review the Natural Flow Study, which is a modeling tool that will estimate the monthly natural flow in the Upper Klamath River Bain, including tributaries, before agricultural development. This review will start in February and be completed in June of 2007.

    a. If so what else will they be looking at?

At the same time, NAS will review the Evaluation of Instream Flow Needs in the Klamath River (Hardy Phase II).


    b. What is the make-up of this NAS Committee?

Independent scientists make up the committee. Please refer to NASís web site for biographies of committee members.


c. Can the public comment on the make-up of this committee?

No.


d. If so, how much time is left in the comment period?

None.

16. In 2003, the study of Long Lake to be used for 350,000 to 500,000 acre feet of deep-cool water storage was supported by our community including Klamath Tribes, Water Users Association, Klamath County Board of Commissioners, Tulelake Irrigation District, and Tulelake Growers Association as well as Bureau Commissioner John Keys. Thousands of acres of farmland have been acquired by the government in the Upper Klamath Basin and only provide shallow-warm water storage for down-river demands. At the 2004 Congressional Hearing at Ross Ragland in Klamath Falls on the Endangered Species Act, Regional Director Kirk Rodgers said the Bureau was "re-engaging that (Long Lake) study as we speak."
       a. Who is doing the research and study on Long Lake, and when will that be completed?

Reclamationís Geology Group has been drilling test holes and evaluating the porosity of the soils over the past two years as seasonal weather has allowed. A preliminare ethnology study was also conducted by Reclamation.


    b. Where in the process is that study?

The test hole data are currently being evaluated to estimate potential for losses due to seepage and may be available for review as soon as February 2006. Revised, preliminary cost estimates are concurrently being prepared and should be available later this year.

With the Klamath Irrigators' power rate unknown, which could be the current rate to up to 2600 per cent increase for the 2006 season, and lawsuits demanding more of the irrigation water to go down the Klamath River, and the water table lowering from over-pumping the aquifer, what are the Bureauís plans for a 2006 water bank?


The plans for the 2006 Water Bank were released to the public in letters to irrigators on January 13th, 2006. Water Bank information is available on the Klamath Basin Area Office website: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/.

a. How many acres of fallow farmland, and how much groundwater are you planning to require of the Irrigators to fill lake-level and river-flow demands in 2006?

The precise acreage planned for each usage type will be released as soon as it is determined. Initially we are looking for about 10,000 acre feet from each.
    
18. What is the story on the Clear Lake Dam that the Bureau built a few years ago? A Bureau person told us that is was crumbling?

Clear Lake Dam had its first Periodic Facility Review in September of 2005. The results were very good, with only relatively minor recommendations for maintenance of the facility. The dam is not crumbling.

19. Since the Project Irrigators did not think the dam needed to be rebuilt in the first place, will they be expected to pay for this project? Was the construction warranted?

The Reclamation Safety of Dams Office in Denver, in consultation with reviewing engineers from the Regional Office determined that the old Clear Lake Dam was unsafe under certain conditions. To allow the lake to reach a full pool to protect Tulelake and other downstream interests, the Dam needed to be rebuilt. The Project Irrigators are expected to provide a portion of the cost of that required construction cost.

20. What is the status of Barnes Ranch acquisition that was promoted as water storage for irrigation? We have heard that Fish and Wildlife Service plans to buy it; is that true? If so, for how much money and how will it be used?

The Department of Interior continues working to acquire Barnes Ranch through the land acquisition authority of the FWS. The cost is under negotiation.

Water Bank Problems for Irrigation Districts:
Irrigation Districts say they are "left out of the loop" regarding the water bank. These are some of the problems:
1. Districts are expected to deliver water to their customers, however they were not told who and at what location would be part of the water bank, and what kind of contract each person had with the Bureau.

In 2005, any district that had water bank participants received maps and lists of the water bank participants that indicated who, what location, and what type of contract. Further coordination may be improved with more face-to-face consultation. Reclamation will continue to provide this water bank information in 2006 and beyond.


2. A District had an irrigator in the water bank order Project water for their property which was supposedly not to be irrigated with Project water, then the irrigator ordered Project water for that property and explained how the Bureau made a special deal where he could irrigate water bank land they were paid for by you to not irrigate with Project water;  they pumped their well water into a ditch on the other end of the basin in a water transfer. Districts are not informed by the Bureau of 'special deals.'

Reclamation did not make any special deals, but we are aware of a few violations of water bank contracts in 2005. We attempt to monitor water use for violations of contracts but we encourage anyone having specific information about a violation of a water bank contract to contact us by phone, anonymously if necessary, so we may investigate the violation.

3. Contracts with the Bureau and irrigators require weed control, cover crops, and other requirements specific to the individual contracts, such as, some irrigators are supposed to pump metered water onto certain property and not directly into ditches.  In the past we have not seen that anyone is monitoring compliance with your rules.

In both 2004 and 2005, we conducted monitoring and acted upon legitimate cases where violations could be documented. We will continue to monitor water use for violations of contracts but we encourage anyone having specific information about a violation of a water bank contract to contact us by phone so we may investigate the violation.


4. The Bureau has not worked with the Districts to plan which property would save the most water by being in the water bank. Districts have history and expertise in soils and drainage in their own areas. Collaboration with districts in selecting land for the water bank could save more water for Bureau demands for fish.

In 2005, we did not coordinate with the districts as we had in some past years. We anticipate meeting with affected districts this year which should improve collaboration.


5. Some water bank pumpers put so much water into drains for water bank demands that the irrigation district must pump the water out of those ditches at the district's expense.

It is our understanding that some individuals that pumped water the last couple of years used ditches and drains to transport water from one area to another under the operational allowances of a drought declaration permit. Since there will not be a drought declaration this year, those individuals pumping ground water must hold a supplemental ground water permit and restrict there pumping to their acreage under production. This should greatly reduce the additional drain water that may have been present under the previous yearís contracts.


The Question:
These 5 issues with the Bureau's water bank have caused considerable problems and expense for districts. How will the Bureau in 2006 resolve each of these water bank problems with the irrigation districts?

 Answered above.

 

 

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