Klamath Water Users Association 

Weekly Update

April 2, 2004


April 7th Meeting at Fairgrounds Will Provide Overview of 2004 Project Ops

The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) is hosting a public meeting next week in Klamath Falls to provide the local community with an update on Klamath Project operations, the 2004 Environmental Water Bank program, and other important water issues. Representatives from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) will be featured speakers at next Wednesday’s event.

"The purpose of this meeting is to get information to local folks so that they can make informed management decisions this spring," said KWUA President Steve Kandra. "It’s also a chance for local landowners to talk to USBR and OWRD officials and get real-time information from them."

KWUA representatives will provide brief overviews of the association’s activities, followed by an update by OWRD’s Barry Norris on Oregon’s involvement with drought and groundwater management issues. USBR Klamath Area Manager Dave Sabo will make the meeting’s feature presentation on 2004 Klamath Project operations and the water bank program. USBR’s Christine Karas will also provide a brief update on her agency’s Conservation Implementation Program. A question and answer period will follow.

"We welcome this opportunity to discuss the latest operations projections with the water user community," Sabo said. "This event provides a worthwhile exchange of information."

The public meeting is being held in-lieu of KWUA’s annual meeting, which is usually scheduled to coincide with the beginning of the Project irrigation season. However, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the water users association, which KWUA plans to mark with a celebratory annual meeting in July. On Wednesday, KWUA representatives will highlight the association’s involvement with legal, technical, political and public relations issues in the Klamath Basin.

"Our presentations are intended to better familiarize people with KWUA and what the association is involved with," said Kandra.

KWUA Public Meeting Information

When: Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Time: 7:00 pm

Where: Klamath County Fairgrounds

Blue Building

3531 S. Sixth, Klamath Falls, Oregon


7:00 p.m. Welcome and Introductory Remarks

(Steve Kandra, KWUA President)

7:05 p.m. Water User Updates

    • Association Overview (Dan Keppen, KWUA Executive Director)
    • Legal and Science Issues (Dave Solem, Klamath Irrigation District)
    • Power (Lynn Long, Klamath Drainage District)
    • Public Relations (Rob Crawford, Tulelake)
    • Wrap Up (Keppen)

7:20 p.m. OWRD Update (Barry Norris, OWRD)

7:30 p.m. 2004 Klamath Project Ops & Water Bank (Dave Sabo, US Bureau of Reclamation)

7:40 p.m. Conservation Implementation Program

(Chris Karas, US Bureau of Reclamation)

7:45 p.m. Questions and Answers

(Facilitated by Kandra)

Momentum Building for Continued Progress on Long Lake Storage Project

A study released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), coupled with the completion of a preliminary assessment by the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) suggest a more optimistic outlook for proposed offstream storage development in Long Lake Valley near Klamath Falls. Reclamation’s new draft geologic investigation for the Long Lake Project demonstrates that "no fatal-flaws" were identified that would preclude the storage of a large volume of water within the valley. KWUA’s assessment – prepared by MBK Engineers of Sacramento – suggests that Reclamation’s 2003 cost estimate for a new Long Lake storage project may have been over $175 million too high. Both assessments have generated new momentum towards development of the project, which could store a minimum of 350,000 acre-feet of water, without construction of a dam.

"The proposal to add water storage at Long Lake deserves a push," said the Klamath Falls Herald and News in an editorial yesterday.

More than 20 groups, including five California and Oregon counties and KWUA, support continued study of the Long Lake project, which has been strongly promoted by the Klamath County Board of Commissioners in the past nine months.

The latest Reclamation assessment appears to settle the controversy regarding a potential "project killer" issue: suspected leakage from the floor of Long Lake Valley. Earlier preliminary assessments of Long lake conducted by Reclamation suggested that substantial and expensive sealing measures would be required to control excessive seepage from the proposed reservoir site. The latest geologic study finds that the valley floor hosts thick deposits of sediments that are expected to form a "very good barrier" to reservoir leakage.

Last December, Reclamation officials released a preliminary assessment, which suggested that a full-blown study of Long Lake would take up to four years and cost up to $10 million. Reclamation’s report further noted that building the project would cost more than half a billion dollars. This finding was based on an update of costs previously developed by Reclamation in a 1987 report.

Earlier this year, KWUA directed its engineering consultant – MBK Engineers– to review both of Reclamation’s studies. MBK’s review discusses the main items that each study examined, and reports their findings. Importantly, MBK found that, while Reclamation’s 2003 construction cost update assumed a capacity of 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), it failed to justify the selection of this capacity. Preliminary analysis conducted by others indicates that a reduced capacity of as low as 750 cfs would provide adequate Long Lake water supply. This capacity reduction results in a corresponding reduction of approximately $45 million from the 2003 Reclamation project cost estimate.

MBK engineers further estimate that removing the dam and reservoir lining from the project would drop Reclamation’s 2003 cost estimate by another $131 million.

"With these considerations, the Long Lake project begins to look much more feasible," said KWUA Executive Director Dan Keppen. "We need to keep moving forward on this promising proposal."

Reclamation Releases Second Draft of CIP Program Document

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is currently seeking public comments on a revised draft of a program document prepared for its proposed Conservation Implementation Program (CIP). An initial draft of the CIP program document was released to the public last June, and reactions from stakeholder interests to that effort ranged from cautiously optimistic to outright opposition. Reclamation attempted to address concerns in its second draft document in the following ways:

  • The purposes of the CIP have been modified and clarified.
  • The second draft clarifies and emphasizes that the CIP is a cooperative effort, to be implemented with and through existing groups and organizations.
  • The scope of the CIP has been expanded to include declining or "special emphasis" species, such as the Chinook salmon, in the initial efforts, and that restoration efforts need to be expanded until other goals, such as harvestable populations, are achieved.
  • A tribal trust committee has been added.
  • Participation is open to any interested entity.
  • Consensus voting as a decision making process has been eliminated.
  • The committee structure has been modified.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries 2002 Biological Opinion on the operation of the Klamath Project concluded that actions affecting threatened salmon would be best addressed through a comprehensive plan. Reclamation accepted the recommendations of the Biological Opinion, including the responsibility to develop a comprehensive plan in conjunction with other Klamath Basin stakeholders and circulated the draft CIP document, which describes one possible manner in which the program could be formulated. The purposes of the CIP are:

  1. To largely restore the Klamath River ecosystem to achieve recovery of endangered suckers, and to substantially contribute to the recovery of Klamath River coho salmon;
  2. To contribute to, but not to fully discharge, the tribal trust responsibilities of the federal government; and
  3. To allow continued sustainable operation of existing water management and future water resource improvements for human use.

The CIP – modeled after a similar effort being implemented on the Upper Colorado River - is intended to serve as a mechanism by which the participants can implement actions necessary to achieve recovery. Klamath water users are assessing how this program could be implemented in the Klamath Basin, where current Endangered Species Act water management decisions are driven by biological opinions that provide no objectives, mileposts, or agency accountability to actually recover listed fish.

"While we are hopeful that that such a program modeled after the Colorado River effort might provide improved regulatory and economic certainty, we also acknowledge that contentious tribal trust and looming water quality issues would complicate initial progress for this program," KWUA noted in an August 2003 letter to Reclamation.

The draft CIP document is available on Reclamation’s web site at: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao.

Scott River Wild Chinook Numbers Up

By Liz Bowen

Reprinted with Permission from The Pioneer Press

Chinook numbers are up all along the Pacific area, and Siskiyou County rivers reflect that trend.

In 1995, more than 14,477 chinook returned to the Scott River at the top of the state. This year, the estimates on the 2003 fall-run came in at 12,329, which is the second highest since the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) began conducting counts in 1978.

Many landowners allowed access to the river through their private land, so DFG employees and volunteers could walk the Scott River to count live salmon, dead salmon and spawning beds. Chinook swam the 25 miles of the Scott River canyon in September and began reaching Scott Valley the first part of October. The run was over by the end of November. Mark Hampton, associate fishery biologist for the Klamath River Project, thanks the farmers and ranchers for allowing access through their land. He was pleased with the high numbers.

"Spawning was distributed throughout the river from Young’s Dam downstream with a hand-full of fish upstream of the dam," said Hampton. Young's Dam is where the Scott Valley Irrigation District diverts its allotted water right from May to October.

This year the spawning areas were mapped using a Trimble GPS unit. Copies of the map will be available in the near future, providing valuable information for a variety of needs.

Salmon harvests in the Pacific Northwest are highly managed by state and federal agencies. Klamath River and its tributaries have been in the limelight for many years. Collecting correct data will aid the

positive management of salmon harvest on the Klamath River, according to Hampton. The news is also good for Tribes, who are allowed 50 percent of the returning numbers.

According to the graph, chinook numbers seem to cycle, yet to the untrained eye, there is little correlation between the Scott and Shasta River chinook numbers and the Iron Gate Hatchery numbers. Scott and Shasta chinook are considered "wild salmon," while those returning to Iron Gate are hatchery-grown fish.

Sari Sommarstrom, chairman of the water committee for the Scott River Watershed Council was excited about the high numbers this year. She said that the last 10-year average, of 7,394 is higher than the 1978 to 2003 average of 5,838.

"Lots of reasons may be attribute to this increase, but our efforts in this watershed certainly should be counted as a contributing cause," said Sommarstrom. "Our ten-year average is going up."

Biologists have acknowledged the better ocean temperature conditions in the last few years, a good water year, and better harvest management as positive influences. Farmers and ranchers in Siskiyou County have also been proactive in enhancing the streambeds and banks.

Shasta River did not see the same spike in numbers as the Scott River. But that river’s 10-year average is also on the increase, compared to the previous 10-year average. On the mainstem Klamath, numbers returning to Iron Gate Dam were the third highest count since the documentation began in 1962-1963. That first year saw just 1,339 return. The 2000-2001 year at Iron Gate found a whopping 72,474 return with the next year the next highest at 38,568.


USDA Announces $3.5 Million for New Salmon Habitat Restoration Initiative

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman on Monday announced a $3.5 million new initiative to help restore and conserve salmon habitat as part of the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).
The fiscal year 2004 funds will be used for the new Salmon Habitat Restoration Initiative, which is available in Alaska, California, Maine, Oregon and Washington.

"This initiative supports the Administration's commitment to restoring the health of the Klamath Basin and critical salmon habitat in other key areas of the country," Veneman said. "Maintaining healthy watersheds will ensure long-term salmon survival."

The new initiative, administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will help landowners with projects that restore habitat for
Pacific and Atlantic salmon.  Projects may include providing shade along streams, restoring gravel spawning beds, removing barriers to fish passages
and reducing agricultural runoff. 

WHIP is a voluntary conservation program, reauthorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, that provides technical and financial assistance to landowners and
others to develop upland, wetland, riparian and aquatic habitat areas on their property.  The program provides full flexibility to landowners,
offering one-year agreements, 5- to 10-year agreements and 15-year or longer agreements.  Since WHIP began in 1998, nearly 14,500 participants have enrolled more than 2.3 million acres into the program. Additional information on WHIP and the Salmon Habitat Restoration Initiative is at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/whip.


Klamath Project Critics React to Inspector General’s "Rove Report"

Klamath Project critics U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) and John DeVoe, executive director for WaterWatch, both reacted negatively to a recent column by journalist Byron York that appeared in The Hill, a Washington, D.C. political newspaper. York two weeks ago wrote a column discussing the recent report released by the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general, which found no basis for a claim by U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) that White House political advisers – including Karl Rove - 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." York in his commentary had observed "Kerry’s accusations were flimsy, and the controversy was not a major campaign issue."

Rep. Blumenauer and DeVoe – vocal critics of Klamath Project agriculture – responded to The Hill with a different point of view.

"Karl Rove may have not ordered the change in water flow directly, but given the way this administration works and the people who manage it, he doesn’t have to," said Blumenauer. DeVoe – whose organization last year was dismissed by a State of Oregon hearing officer panel from the ongoing Klamath River adjudication process – mirrored the Portland congressman’s message.

"Whether or not Karl Rove was involved in manipulating Department of Interior decisions, it is ridiculous to argue that politics has not played a role in federal management of the Klamath’s scarce water resources," said DeVoe.


OWGL to Host Public Forum on USDA Klamath Basin Conservation Funding

The Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) is hosting a meeting to discuss Farm Bill programs available in the Klamath Basin. This public forum is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, 2004, at the Klamath County Extension Auditorium, 3328 Vandenberg Road, Klamath Falls.

The OWGL meeting will provide producers the opportunity to have an open discussion with Natural Resources Conservation Service staff in both Oregon and California about the various Farm Bill programs available in the Basin, and how these programs can best be leveraged to address local natural resource priorities.  Local producers will also have the opportunity to share their concerns about Farm Bill funding, and most importantly, their ideas for how federal resources should be focused, directed, and leveraged in the Klamath Basin.

All producers are invited and welcome to attend.  For questions or additional information, please contact the OWGL office.

Please RSVP by calling the OWGL office at 541-276-7330 no later than April 2, 2004. Refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by:
Oregon Wheat Growers League
115 SE 8th Pendleton, OR 97801
541-276-7330 fax 541-276-1723


Sunday, April 4, 2004 – Klamath Fishery Management Council. 3:00 p.m. Red Lion Hotel, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento, California.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004 – OWGL Public Forum: NRCS Klamath Programs. 1:00 p.m. OSU Klamath County Extension Auditorium, 3328 Vandenberg Road, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Wednesday, April 7, 2004 – KWUA Public Information Meeting. 7:00 p.m. Klamath County Fairgrounds, Blue Building, Klamath Falls, OR.

Friday, April 9, 2004 - KWUA Science Committee Meeting. 9:00 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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