Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Anti-Farm Groups Continue Klamath
By Greg Addington,
Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director.
The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) continues to work hard on many fronts to ensure adequate water supply is delivered to project irrigators with some degree of certainty. For years Basin farmers have looked at ways to be more water efficient. After more than 95 years of project operation and irrigation deliveries, questionable science was used in 2001 to give that water to three species of "endangered fish".
It is often said that there isn’t enough water to go around. Farmers are asked to conserve even more. Millions of dollars are invested in wheel lines, linear irrigation systems and center pivots, all very water efficient systems and all require a lot of power to operate. Add to this the fact that the irrigation districts in the basin have huge pumping requirements for the lifting and reuse of water. One district pays tens of thousands of dollars per year to pump water through a ridge and into the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge, water that benefits one of the nation’s premier waterfowl staging areas. After years of conversion from flood irrigation to more "conservation" friendly (and power consuming) irrigation systems, farmers in the Klamath Basin are now facing the possibility of a 1200% - 2500% increase in their power rates.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that some of the biggest proponents of this drastic increase are the very same anti-farming environmental groups who blame the Klamath Project and those who depend on it, for virtually every environmental ailment in Southern Oregon and Northern California (including a "lack" of salmon in the entire Pacific Ocean!). Oh yeah, by the way, these are the same people that over the years have demanded that farmers and ranchers become more efficient in their use of water. Their misguided rational is that if you slam irrigators with outrageous increases, they will go out of business and thus provide more water for "endangered fish".
Klamath water users continue to reach out to those groups and individuals that are genuinely interested in having a serious dialogue about solutions to the complex problems throughout the Klamath Watershed. In addition we will continue to fight for what is right with respect to our power rates. Many benefit from the low power rate that is required in the Klamath River Compact. Yes, irrigators in the Klamath Basin benefit. So do PacifiCorp customers. Without the Klamath Reclamation project they would not have access to this low cost hydro power.
Many think that basin farmers are getting some great deal at the expense of hard working men and women throughout the region. There IS a sweetheart power deal in the Klamath Basin, but it isn’t the irrigators who are getting it. The utility company proposing the increase, PacifiCorp, generates power (and revenue) from water that is stored for one purpose and from a project that was built for one purpose, to irrigate the fertile soils of the Klamath Basin.
A deal is a deal. Nothing has changed since 1956 when the contract for low cost power was last renewed. PacifiCorp and their customers receive the benefit of a hydro project on the Klamath River; in return, the government requires that there be a low power rate for pumping of project water. A rate that benefits PacifiCorp customers, endangered species and other wildlife, as well as …yes farmers and ranchers.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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