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Bureau: Water supplies adequate

Klamath Basin irrigators expected to get sufficient water this summer

By DD Bixby, Herald and News, 6/26/08

Water supplies should be adequate this summer for irrigators in the Klamath Basin, Bureau of Reclamation officials said.

From April through September, Upper Klamath Lake is expected to have about 500,000 acrefeet of water, an average number in the last half century, said Jon Hicks, planning division chief at the bureau.

Reclamation is operating its distribution under an interim plan that combines the new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service non-jeopardy biological opinion on the suckers in Upper Klamath Lake and the 2002 biological opinion on coho salmon at Iron Gate Dam.

Plan working well

Hicks said the interim plan seemed to be working well. The agency is waiting for a second opinion from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The opinion was originally expected in April and then delayed.

Under previous opinions, lake and flow levels at the dam were determined by the water year, which is determined by the National Resource Conservation Service forecast.

Under the interim plan and the proposed plan, Reclamation will base its management on monthly levels.

As of Monday, Reclamation was exceeding all of the minimum requirements set forth by the biological opinions.

The new proposal accounts for “more real time hydrological conditions,” looking at lake levels and tributary inflow twice a month instead of looking to an inflow forecast and making a ful lyear call on lake elevation.

“We’re able to provide reasonable lake elevations through this process and we’re able to mirror more of a natural hydrology change,” Hicks said.

For June, the proposed minimum flows below Iron Gate Dam should be 1,400 cubic feet per second (cfs) and the proposed elevation at Upper Klamath Lake should be 4,140.5 feet. Reclamation’s weekly water report showed that flows below the dam were 1,800 cfs and the lake was at 4142.61 feet.

The minimums for July are proposed to be 1,000 cfs at Iron Gate Dam and 4,139.3 feet on Upper Klamath Lake.
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