adjustments coming to Iron Gate Dam
The Bureau of Reclamation, in
coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, announced Tuesday,
Feb. 14 that it will direct “temporary adjustments” to Iron
Gate Dam effective immediately.
Flows from the Iron Gate Dam, the
lowest of the four Klamath River dams scheduled for removal
in 2023 and 2024, are being reduced by about 11 percent, or
105 cubic-feet per second. The reductions began Tuesday and
will continue through April 1.
According to a news release announcing
the reduction, the agencies said, “The operational change
will be informed by ongoing real-time environmental and
hydrologic monitoring; further management may be implemented
after considering this information.”
Despite storm events experienced
across Oregon and California in late December and early
January, a spokesman for the agencies said, “the hydrology
of the Klamath Basin continues to be hampered by the effects
of a multi-year drought. Uncertainty remains with respect to
forecasting for this water year, but the three agencies have
coordinated on and agreed to an approach designed to
minimize risk to Endangered Species Act-listed suckers (shortnose
and Lost River suckers), coho salmon, and Southern Resident
According to the release, the agencies
“will continue Tribal Nation and stakeholder communications
initiated last fall, as well as the adaptive management
process they have established to consider the best available
scientific information in managing risks.” The process is
described in the Klamath Project January 2023 Temporary
Operating Procedure, and the Klamath Project Operating
Coordination, Winter/Spring 2023, released Feb. 13, 2023.
The adaptive management approach aims
to address limited available water supply in the Klamath
Basin, given potential future hydrology scenarios and
competing needs for listed species in Upper Klamath Lake and
the Klamath River.
The needs include Upper Klamath Lake
elevations for endangered suckers and providing Klamath
River flows, and a spring pulse flow for salmon disease
mitigation to protect threatened salmon and Southern
Resident Killer Whales. “These species are important tribal
trust resources, and their protection is a critical priority
for the federal agencies, recognizing the challenges of
meeting requirements for all listed species simultaneously,”
according to the release.
The release also notes that since last
October the BOR has been “hosting technical meetings with
Tribal Nations, water users, and federal agency partners to
review hydrologic and environmental conditions and discuss
proposed changes to Klamath Project operations relative to
Klamath River flows and Upper Klamath Lake elevations.
Reclamation initiated weekly meetings in January with the
release of the Temporary Operating Procedure to review
technical and policy considerations for its implementation.
Reclamation also holds nation-to-nation meetings prior to
major operational changes, and as requested.”
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