Klamath Water Users Association 

Weekly Update

March 19, 2004



Inspector General’s Report Dismisses Senator Kerry’s Klamath Allegations

A recent report released by the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general has found no basis for a claim by U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) that White House political advisers interfered in developing water policy in the Klamath Basin. Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney’s report found "no evidence of political influence affecting the decisions pertaining to the water in the Klamath Project."

Last year, an article written in The Wall Street Journal implied that presidential advisor Karl Rove had exerted his authority over agencies involved with Klamath Basin water resources management. Later in the year, Sen. Kerry sided with environmentalists who were accusing the Bush administration of applying political pressure to influence water management decisions in the Klamath Basin. A week after the Journal article appeared, Kerry requested that Devaney investigate Rove’s alleged role in the Klamath decision, which Devaney agreed to do.

"The Bush administration has acted as if federal agencies like the Interior Department are a division of the Republican National Committee and at their disposal to give out political favors," said Kerry, at the time. "The Klamath decision should have been based on law and science, and not a political operative’s agenda, polls and campaign priorities."

In a March 1 letter to Kerry, advising him of the results of the investigation, Devaney said his investigators interviewed all the officials and reviewed all the documents involved in the decision. He explained that the Klamath River issue was one that involved "fiercely competing interests," not only among the farmers and the environmentalists, but "even among opposing federal officials relating to the use and/or conservation of limited water resources." Devaney ultimately found that the administration process followed in this matter "did not deviate from the norm."

"While we confirmed a passing reference to the Klamath River Basin Project during an otherwise-unrelated presentation to senior Interior officials," Devaney wrote, "we found nothing to tie Karl Rove’s comments or presentation to the Klamath decision-making process."

"We conclude that the department conducted itself in keeping with the administrative process, that the science and information utilized supported the department’s decisions, and that no political pressure was perceived by any of the key participants."

Kerry initially appeared to accept Devaney’s findings, but still defended his actions.

"There are too many examples in this administration of politics trumping science, not to be concerned," Kerry said in a statement after receiving Devaney’s letter. 

Devaney’s response to Senator Kerry’s allegations received widespread press coverage in the past week, including an Associated Press story that ran in national papers last weekend, and prominent exposure by the Washington Post. Rush Limbaugh also read parts of a Kerry/Klamath editorial written by Byron York, White House correspondent for National Review, on his nationally syndicated radio talk show on Wednesday.

A River "Upside Down" – PacifiCorp Model Provides a Klamath Reality Check

Recent water quality modeling developed by PacifiCorp provides a glimpse into Klamath River dynamics that may force policy makers to take a whole new look into how the system can be managed. The Klamath Hydroelectric Project (Project) consists of seven mainstem hydroelectric developments on the upper Klamath River and one tributary hydroelectric development. PacifiCorp owns and operates the Project under a single license issued in 1956 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The 50-year license (FERC Project No. 2082) expires on March 1, 2006.

PacifiCorp has developed flow and water quality models for the Klamath River, specifically from Link Dam to Turwar, California. The models developed by PacifiCorp can analyze water quality from Link Dam to Iron Gate Dam and below, and show how the PacifiCorp facilities contribute to or control water quality conditions in and downstream of the dams. The models can address questions related to PacifiCorp operations including (1) whether and how operations might contribute to water quality conditions, and (2) whether and how operations might feasibly contribute to water quality improvements.

Utility Of Maintaining Dams In Place

According to the modeling, the PacifiCorp dams in the Middle Klamath are serving important functions. Some of those functions are attributable simply to the fact that they create a series of lakes. Turbidity, for example, diminishes as water moves through the system; turbidity can be a surrogate for particulate matter, including dead algae and other nutrients.

Particulate organic matter that originates, or is a result of nutrients released from Upper Klamath Lake, agricultural return flows, and municipal and industrial inputs in the Klamath Falls area is to a large extent trapped by system reservoirs (settles out), reducing the overall nutrient load to the reaches below Iron Gate Dam. All of the reservoirs are "productive," and organic loads are elevated in all of them; however, Upper Klamath Lake is in general several times as "productive" as Iron Gate and Copco reservoirs. Further, Upper Klamath Lake is a much larger body of water with a large surface area, and can produce appreciable organic inputs to the Klamath River. Comparatively, Iron Gate and Copco reservoirs have much smaller surface areas and, although productive, do not yield the same loading potential as Upper Klamath Lake. These reservoirs thus have a considerably smaller impact on releases to the Klamath River than Upper Klamath Lake.

Consequences of Dam Removal

PacifiCorp’s findings suggest that, under current conditions - even if all the dams were removed below Link Dam - the resulting river reaches could not assimilate or retain anywhere near what the dams now assimilate or retain. Without the dams, there is potential for water with substantially impaired water quality to flow downstream to the middle Klamath River reaches. Without the current impoundments in place, water would reach the area of Iron Gate Dam in two to three days versus six to eight weeks. The dams are beneficial for water quality, because upstream water quality is impaired, and the reservoirs trap appreciable amounts of matter, thereby reducing the load to downstream reaches.

If Iron Gate Dam were removed, PacifiCorp modeling suggests that the river below Copco I and II developments would be slightly warmer than the river below Iron Gate Dam because Copco is smaller and has a smaller cold water pool. There would be unknown silt impacts downstream of Iron Gate Dam upon removal. There would still be "thermal lag," even without Iron Gate Dam, since the Copco Dam would continue to have a thermal lag effect. Finally, cold water in Iron Gate Dam is a source of water for the fish hatchery, so removal would result in no cold water supply for the hatchery. Removing Iron Gate Dam would restore approximately eight river miles, with resultant increase in mainstream reaches, and some spawning habitat.

The habitat quantity and quality outputs from another model are being used to focus on dam and reservoir passage efficiencies so that passage options can be assessed. The model incorporates both habitat data and fish passage survival through Klamath Hydro Project structures to estimate fish production in specific reaches or areas of the basin. The model can explore how different assumptions affect model results; this model is being used primarily as a "gaming" tool to assess the effects various fish passage options have on fish production. KWUA will continue to gather further information on this model, which may prove to be a useful tool to evaluate watershed-wide actions that can benefit water quality and fish habitat.

Participants in recent PacifiCorp modeling presentations have noted that the Klamath River behaves as if it is "upside down", with characteristics that differ from other river systems.

– Source:2/5/04 PacifiCorp Briefing Material -

Walden Named as New Chair of House Resources Forestry Subcommittee

The Chairman of the House Committee on Resources on Monday announced that U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) will assume the chairmanship of the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, which is responsible for shaping the nation’s forest policy. Walden’s appointment to the chairmanship of the panel is effective immediately.

"I’m grateful to Chairman Pombo and Subcommittee Chairman McInnis for this opportunity, and I look forward to building on the leadership they’ve demonstrated in making historic reforms to our nation’s forestry policy," said Walden.

Walden currently serves on the Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power, as well as the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality and the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

The Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health has jurisdiction over public forestlands; federal reserved water rights on forest reserves; the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, National Trails System, and national heritage areas; federal and non-federal outdoor recreation plans, programs and administration in public forests; and general oversight and investigative authority over activities, policies and programs within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee.

Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) praised Walden for his leadership on forestry issues and congratulated him on his new chairmanship.

Western Water Alliance Closes Its Doors

By Craig Smith

Executive Director, Family Farm Alliance


Note from KWUA: The Western Water Alliance last month closed its office. This coalition of environmental activists was introduced to the world in 2002 on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. At that time, the new group called for "fundamental reform of federal water policies to meet 21st Century environmental, economic and community needs." Key alliance members included Barry Nelson, NRDC, Katherine Ransel, American Rivers, John Echohawk, Native American Rights Fund, Dana Haasz, Pacific Institute, Steve Ellis, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Steve Malloch, Trout Unlimited, Denise Fort, University of New Mexico, and Bob Hunter, WaterWatch. The Klamath Project was a favorite target of this alliance.

The following was prepared by Craig Smith and was reprinted with his permission.

In an era when it seems the environmental movement has been able to raise and spend as much money as it pleases, a ray of hope has broken through.  The Western Water Alliance, an organization that sprang to life just two years ago and was funded and managed by Trout Unlimited, has folded up.  The Western Water Alliance failed to find broad support and could not raise enough funding to maintain its operation.  We always believed that The Western Water Alliance name was intended to create confusion with the Family Farm Alliance.  Steve Malloch, the Executive Director of the Western Water Alliance, once called the FFA the "most effective voice for Western irrigated agriculture".  He intended it as a criticism of our policies, but it will stand as one of the nicest compliments ever paid the Family Farm Alliance.

Below is a memo from Malloch to his mailing list explaining the fate of the organization.

March 10, 2004

View from the Waterfront

The View this week is ... unsettled.

As of the end of February, the Western Water Alliance closed its office, and I resigned as Director. In difficult financial times, we were not able to raise the money to implement a far-reaching and ambitious agenda. 

I am proud of WWAs achievements in working to build a west-wide political and policy base for sustainable and equitable use of water.  Over the past three years we: held a series of convenings; formulated a west-wide perspective opposing Bush Administration efforts to limit Clean Water Act jurisdiction; engaged western waters interests in the fight to save the Endangered Species Act; laid ground work for policy development on long-term drought response and global warming; and, in association with Trout Unlimited, published the The Western Waterfront. 

With this decision to put the Western Water Alliance on ice, the fate of the Western Waterfront is unsettled.  I will be looking for ways to keep it going, while at the same time looking for my next project.  We will let you know how things turn out. 


Reclamation To Compensate Project Districts for O&M Admin Costs

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) last week announced that it would compensate Klamath Project irrigation districts for the administrative costs incurred to distribute 2001 operations and maintenance (O&M) reimbursements to district patrons. Reclamation earlier this month announced that Klamath Basin irrigators will receive final reimbursements for operations and maintenance (O&M) fund costs for water for 2001, when irrigation water was not delivered.

"The O&M reimbursements were deposited to accounts of the irrigation districts this week and should be distributed to individual irrigators almost immediately," said Dave Sabo, manager of the Klamath Reclamation Project.

"Additional funds intended to compensate the districts for their administrative costs in dispensing the funds to individual irrigators are now being calculated," Sabo noted. The administrative burden that the districts would assume was not anticipated when the Federal monies were approved. The expected costs for the districts range from approximately $10 to $8,500, depending on the district.

"We are grateful to Congressman Walden for his efforts in securing these funds for the farmers and ranchers of the basin," Sabo said. Walden, representing Oregon’s Second District, was instrumental in the passage of Public Law 107-349, authorizing refunds of monies collected by Reclamation in 2001.


Due to Spring Vacation (in Oregon) for the Week of March 22nd, the KWUA Weekly Update Will Not Be Distributed Next Week.

Enjoy Your Break!


Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - KWUA Science Committee Meeting. 8:00 a.m. KWUA Office, 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, Klamath Falls. Administrative Committee Meeting to immediately follow.

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - KWUA Water Bank and Supply Enhancement Committee Meeting. 7:00 a.m. KWUA Office, 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, Klamath Falls.


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

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