Klamath Water Users Association 

Weekly Update

Sep 27, 2002



Interior Announces Water Releases in Klamath River

Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation will increase Upper Klamath Lake water releases at midnight tonight, ramping up from 760 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 1,300 cfs into the Klamath River for 14 days to meet a request from the National Marine Fisheries Service for pulse flows into the lower river. Scientists hope that these additional flows will provide some relief for the recent unprecedented salmon mortality near the river's mouth in northern California.

"The water will be released beginning today to meet Tribal Trust responsibilities to support the migrating salmon during this emergency," Norton said. "This is an abnormal situation and we want to help these fish while meeting our Endangered Species Act responsibilities and delivering water to irrigated agriculture in the Klamath Basin."

"We are doing our best to respond to this situation," Norton added. "Although scientists are still struggling to understand why this problem has arisen, we want to do what we can now to respond."

The fish die-off is located about 190 miles downstream from Upper Klamath Lake. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys said, "It will take about three days for the water to make it from Iron Gate Dam to the mouth of the river. We're hoping that this water will help move the fish up-river and relieve the jam near the river's mouth."

As of September 26, Reclamation was augmenting the natural river flow by more than 450 cfs. Combined releases from Reclamation projects upstream totaled more than 1,200 cfs, or about 56
percent of the total Klamath River flow at its mouth. Current inflow to Trinity Lake averages 100 cfs, with releases of 450 cfs, and current inflow to Upper Klamath Lake is 650 cfs, with releases (prior to today's increase) of 760 cfs. Federal, State, and Tribal scientists have been studying the situation since it began to determine exactly why the fish were dying.

KWUA Responds to Interior’s Flow Decision

KWUA today issued a formal statement on Interior’s decision to increase Klamath River flows. Key points are summarized below:

 Increasing mainstem flows at this time of year (late September or October) could be a justifiable management action to benefit salmon. However, KWUA still believes increased flows earlier in the summer may actually harm fish.

 The water that will be used for this purpose is available because farmers undertook innovative and effective measures to conserve water this summer. The proposal would also not be possible without Klamath Project reservoirs.

 We appreciate the public statements issued by federal and state officials – include NMFS and California Department of Fish and Game representatives – who have clarified that the cause for the fish die-off is uncertain and has not yet been tracked down.

 The current crisis provides a glaring example of why an effective long-term management plan – backed by common sense and sound science – is needed for the Klamath River.

Thompson Joins PCFFA and ONRC in Suit Against Basin

U.S. Representative Mike Thompson, who represents California’s north coast area in Congress, yesterday joined forces with a group of environmental advocates in yet another litigious action aimed at Klamath Basin agriculture. The Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of Pacific Coast Federation of Fisheries Associations (PCFFA) and other environmental groups, filed an amended complaint aimed at alleged inadequacies of a biological opinion (BO) recently prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). PCFFA filed a lawsuit last spring, before the BO was prepared, and sought a temporary restraining order (TRO), which was denied by Judge Sandra Armstrong in Oakland. A stipulation of the decision essentially stayed the case and provided that PCFFA would either dismiss their suit or file an amended complaint by September 25th.

While the amended complaint filing comes at the same time there is much attention being given to the lower river, the action may have been driven more by the date stipulated in the May decision. The amended complaint refers directly to the recent fish kills in only one of its 75 paragraphs of allegations.
KWUA is currently reviewing the complaint.

“It remains possible that PCFFA or someone else would seek immediate relief”, said Paul Simmons, KWUA attorney. “But I do not have any reason to believe that such a thing is coming from PCFFA at this time.”


Saturday, September 28, 2002 – Klamath Relief Fund Florida Convoy Send Off. 9:30 a.m. Klamath County Courthouse, Klamath Falls.

Tuesday, September 30, 2002 – KWUA Demand Reduction Committee Meeting. 6:30 p.m. KWUA. 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, KFO

Wednesday, October 9 and Thursday, October 10, 2002 – Klamath Fishery Management Council Meeting. 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office, 1829 South Oregon Street, Yreka, CA.

Friday, October 11, 2002 - Klamath Fishery Management Council Meeting. 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Yreka Fish and Wildlife Office, 1829 South Oregon Street, Yreka, California.

Klamath Water Users Association
2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3
Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603
(541)-883-6100 FAX (541)-883-8893 kwua@cdsnet.net


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