Klamath Basin (KWAPA) subject of dispute within
SALEM (AP) — A watchdog arm of the U.S. Department of the
Interior says the Bureau of Reclamation lacked the authority to
enter into an agreement with the Klamath Water and Power Agency
(KWAPA) on water use, and that consequently $32.2 million spent
by the agency over seven years “was a waste of funds.”
The department insisted that it did have the authority.
The dispute between the inspector general’s office and its own
department has been referred to the Assistant Secretary for
Policy, Management and Budget for resolution.
In its report released this week, the inspector general’s office
recommended that the Bureau of Reclamation discontinue funding
water-supplementation activities in the Klamath Basin unless it
has specific legal authority.
The Interior Department noted that the cooperative agreement
with the Klamath Water and Power Agency already ended, on May 2.
The Klamath Project is a federal dam project in Southern Oregon
and Northern California to manage the flows of the Klamath
The inspector general’s office said parts of the program paid
irrigators for idling land and for deepening and drilling wells,
and that it largely benefited the irrigators instead of fish and
wildlife, the intended benefactors.
In its response, the Interior Department said water savings
realized through the cooperative agreement “essentially provided
the same fish and wildlife benefits as the acquisition of third
party water rights.”
The reduction in surface water demand through land idling and
wells, the department argued, increased “the water available in
Upper Klamath Lake and Clear Lake Reservoir to meet requirements
for the endangered short-nose and Lost River suckers and in the
Klamath River for the endangered coho salmon.”
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