Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
‘It’s just depressing’
Looking at the impact of water shutoff in California’s Central Valley
Unemployment close to 50 percent. Nearly 20,000 job losses. Commercial losses approaching $1 billion.
The impacts of a water shutoff in California’s Central Valley Project are strikingly similar to what happened to the Klamath Basin during its 2001 water crisis, said Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance.
“I’ve been down there. It’s just depressing,” he said.
Keppen made a presentation on the Central Valley Project to Klamath County’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee last week. The county is looking for ways to extend aid and support during circumstances that seem all too familiar.
The impacted area is near where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet before flowing into the San Francisco Bay Delta. A drought contributed to a shortage of water in the rivers, but Keppen said increasing flows to help fish, particularly the Delta smelt, and water quality are making the biggest impact.
Agricultural water users were told they’d receive no water for the season. The original water supply to the Central Valley Project was supposed to be 1.8 million acre-feet of water . It is now down to just more than 635,000 acre-feet.
Keppen said solutions are being pursued, particularly improving the water infrastructure and regulation. Unfortunately, that will take decades, billions of dollars and a lot of political will to accomplish.
His organization also is part of a lawsuit demanding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service release its studies on what needed to be done to help fish species such as the Delta smelt, and there likely will be a push to suspend the Endangered Species Act in the region until a more permanent solution can be found, he said.
Page Updated: Saturday November 21, 2009 01:34 AM Pacific
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