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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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50 Years On The Klamath
by John C. Boyle

Diversions to Pitt River

          Plans for full utilization of Klamath River for irrigation and power were discussed many times in the past by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Reclamation and others, and exhaustive reports were filed.

           In December 1944 the Civil Works Division of the War Department detailed investigations covering water and power utilization in the Klamath and Pitt Rivers . The proposed plans were briefly:

(1) The construction of a high dam on the Sprague River above Chiloquin that would flood the entire Sprague River basin and store seasonal runoff to the amount of 1,200,000 acre feet. This water would be released through the Upper Klamath Lake , through Link River , through Lost River diversion canal to Tule Lake . From the lower end of Tule Lake there would be constructed a tunnel, approximately 39 miles long, to the headwaters of the Pitt River where it could be utilized by the five plants of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Shasta Dam, Keswick Dam, and other places on the Shasta project, finally finding its irrigation use in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. The water available was estimated at 900-second feet continuous flow throughout the year. Canals and tunnels would be constructed for carrying this quantity of water.

(2) All of the Klamath Irrigation would be supplied from the Williamson River , Upper Klamath Lake , Horsefly and Clear Lake reservoirs.

(3) The Tule Lake sump would be dried up and thereby permit the reclamation of 22,000 acres of land for soldier settlement. Water from the Lower Klamath Lake could be returned to Tule Lake without pumping, and water from the Klamath River released into the Lower Klamath Lake area, with the result that the Klamath River at Keno would be dry for a considerable period of the year. During the balance of the year the only water flowing in the Klamath River would be from local areas below Horsefly reservoir or surpluses above the storage capacity of Upper Klamath Lake .

(4) An alternative line of diversion would be to take the water from Spencer Bridge below Keno around through the Shasta Valley area to the Mt. Shasta divide and cross over into the McCloud River near the town of Mt. Shasta. While this diversion would reduce the tunnel to about 9 miles in length, the water could not be utilized in any of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company plants. This diversion, however, would again take all of the water out of Klamath River and destroy all the power projects below Keno with the exception of the drop between Keno and Spencer Bridge .

            (5) The inflow in the Klamath River below Spencer Bridge was considered adequate to take care of fish life, and the program called for utilization of Copco No.1 reservoir with storage of about 77,000 acre feet for release of a continuous flow of water below Copco No.1 to take care of fish life and recreational facilities on the river below.

(6) The value of Copco No.1 and No.2 as power projects would be totally destroyed. The plan contemplated that Copco would continue to serve all of the areas then served, and that Copco would be reimbursed for its capital loss and furnished with firm power at cost from the Shasta dam, with a reasonable severance damage and assurance of additional capacity if and when needed.

(7) The estimated cost of the project, including losses to be paid Copco and others was $100,000,000.00.

In December 1944 there was an explosion, which shook both the Upper and Lower Klamath River basins and caused a united front to immediately form to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from diverting Klamath Water to Sacramento Valley . Some envisioned another Owens Valley versus Los Angeles aqueduct wherein so-called surplus water might become firm water and be lost forever to the Klamath Basin.

On February 16, 1945 , Copco advised the Army Corps of Engineers that the diversion of Klamath water to the Sacramento Valley was not in the public interest. H. R. Document No. 181, 73rd Congress referred on page 41, section 115, states:

"The proposed diversion, by removing most of their water supply would practically destroy the value of the existing power plants at Copco No.1 and Copco No.2, and any rights that Copco may have for the construction of other plants on the Klamath. The right to use the proposed 520 feet of power head above Trout Lake would compensate the power company for only a part of this loss."

Public hearings were held at Klamath Falls , Yreka and Eureka where the proposed plans were discussed by qualified engineers and all expressions for and against the program were recorded.

A legislative committee headed by State Senator Randolph Collier made a valuable report summarized as follows:

The California Legislature 56 session passed Senate Concurrent Resolution No.18 Chapter 21, statutes of 1945 appointing a committee to investigate and report its findings in connection with the proposed Klamath and Trinity River diversions to the Central Valley of California. The committee of nine with Senator Randolph Collier, Chairman, promptly held meetings beginning in January 1945 and by May 1945 had filed a detailed report to the California Legislature.

Insofar as Klamath River diversions were considered the conclusions of the Committee were briefly:

(1) "The investigations being conducted in regard to the Klamath River diversions by the Corps of Engineers, War Department, are untimely and uncalled for and are not supported by any local interests whatsoever."  

            (2) "Preliminary studies indicate that further water requirements of the Upper Klamath basin will make it necessary to develop practically all of existing water supply within the Klamath River basin."

And it was recommended that:

(1) "The Bureau of Reclamation should be requested by local residents to investigate water requirements of the entire Klamath River Basin giving full consideration to the irrigation, power, fish, and wildlife, recreational and other beneficial uses for water."

(2) "Investigation by the Corps of Engineers should be discontinued without further unnecessary expenditure of public funds."


In June 1954 the Bureau of Reclamation completed a preliminary study of the Upper Klamath River Basin covering development of water and related resources.

This study included reports from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Mines, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bonneville Power Administration. It was very complete in reviewing the status of developments which had taken place to date and it outlined a comprehensive plan for utilizing the remaining resources of the basin for the benefit of all interested agencies.

The important changes suggested in the plan were:

 (1) To include Shasta River Valley and Scott River Valley in the Upper Klamath Basin where they were previously considered as part of the Lower Klamath Basin .

(2) To include power development by the Bureau of Reclamation by diverting Klamath River by way of Butte Valley , Meiss Lake , and Ikes Mountain tunnel to a powerplant at the upper end of Copco Lake of about 105,000 KW capacity.

As Meiss Lake could easily be drained back through the proposed Butte Valley tunnel all the drainage flows of water from rainfall and irrigation could be returned to the Klamath River at Keno. The proposed river level canal, similar to the Lost River diversion canal, would permit water to be taken in either direction.

The Bureau of Reclamation changed its plans with respect to irrigating the Butte Valley and the diversion of water through Butte Valley to Shasta Valley or Copco Lake because it was impossible to convince the irrigators in Butte Valley that the high cost per acre for water was justified. Some of the area in Butte Valley and Red Rock Valley was irrigated from ground water supply and the irrigators refused to surrender their water rights to the United States to become a part of the Butte Valley and Red Rock system. Also considerable land in Butte Valley was alkaline, and reclamation of this land was questionable.  



Canyon Project

Power development in the Upper Klamath Basin canyon was considered very important to Copco. It already had large investments in power plants on the river so it kept constantly in touch with the river and its utilization.  

            Copco's plan followed very closely the requirements of the Federal Power Commission, namely that an application must include a proposal to develop and utilize all the power re- sources of the area.

On May 9, 1921, application was made to the Federal Power Commission for permission to investigate a stretch of river about 10 miles in length lying in Oregon immediately above the state line, for the purpose of the ultimate development of about 320,000 KW between Keno and Iron Gate. The Federal Power Commission issued a permit No.215 on November 27, 1922 under which engineering studies could be made.

On May 12, 1921, application was made to the State Engineer of Oregon to appropriate 1500 second feet of water for the development of 7.0,000 THP (theoretical horsepower), application No.7894, on this same stretch of river. Permit was not issued by the State Engineer for the reason that the Attorney General of Oregon had rendered an opinion that those waters were not subject to appropriation having been transferred to the United States for irrigation purposes under Oregon Legislative Act of 1905.

As time passed, engineering studies were completed and the preliminary layout of projects submitted with revised applications to the Federal Power Commission and the State Engineer of Oregon.

The original state filing No.7894 was changed and new filings made as follows:

Canyon Project            No. 13603- 28,295 THP

Big Bend                      No. 13604- 65,455 THP original No.7894

Grant No.2                   No. 13605- 36,477 THP

Grant No.3                   No. 13606- 17,045 THP

Grant No.4                   No. 13607 -34,091 THP


These applications were before the State Engineer for approval and Copco asked that the Canyon Project be approved for construction. The Company had appropriated $4,000,000.00 and had received a preliminary license from the Federal Power Commission. This preliminary license was recalled when the FPC was advised that Copco had not been granted a permit for use of the water from the state.

Legal questions arose as to whether or not the state "could issue any permits for appropriation of any of the waters within the Klamath River or the Klamath Lake basins." The State Engineer advised that permits pending would not be approved by the State Reclamation Commission until a license was obtained from the Federal Power Commission. A hearing was held before the State Reclamation Commission on October l0th, 1930 in Salem , Oregon . Protests were filed for and against issuing a permit. The Commission sought to determine whether or not water appropriated would impair or be detrimental to the public interest. Eighty seven pages of testimony were taken. Finally, it was proposed that a bill (S-315) be introduced in the January 1931 session of the Oregon Legislature for the purpose of clarifying the matter of water rights below Keno. State authorities, lawyers, and public officials prepared the bill. It passed both houses but was vetoed by the governor.

The governor and his staff delayed further action until the act creating the Hydroelectric Commission of Oregon had become effective.

           The Hydroelectric Act of January 22, 1931 provided for a commission within the State of Oregon similar to the Federal Power Commission. It had jurisdiction over the water power resources of the state and required that all pending applications for the development of power be referred to the Commission within 60 days. The State officials were contemplating going into the development and marketing of power.

Copco did not transfer its applications on the Klamath River to the new commission because there still remained considerable uncertainty about water rights. So the State Engineer canceled the pending applications and advised that if renewed, they would have to come under the new Hydroelectric Commission of Oregon, stating that Copco had lost their priority and that the only way they could regain that priority would be through litigation.

The Company then transferred its activities to the Iron Gate site in California on the Klamath River and decided to use the $4,000,000.00 approved for the Canyon Project on Iron Gate development.

The applications to develop the Iron Gate site filed with the Federal Power Commission and the State of California again brought up the old problems of water rights. Legal and legislative procedures involved not only the waivers in favor of irrigation in Oregon but extended them also to California . These waivers plus the question of interstate rights plus the question of prior rights to use of water at Copco No. 1 and Copco No.2 in California were discussed in several conferences but no satisfactory agreement was reached, so the Iron Gate project was indefinitely postponed early in 1932.

The Klamath River and that part of the Upper Klamath Basin between Link River and Keno changed in many respects with the development of irrigation and power:

In 1890, a dike was built to prevent overflow of Klamath River with Lost River and on into Tule Lake . This dike was cut by the Lost River diversion canal when built in 1911-1912 thus eliminating a relief of Klamath River water during floods. Also Tule Lake area was dried up for reclamation by diverting Lost River into Klamath River . These two changes modified the flow of Klamath River at Keno and below.

In 1906 and 1907, the Southern Pacific Railroad was required to install headgates at Ady so flow of water to and from Lower Klamath Lake could be regulated or shut off entirely. On October 12, 1917 the headgates were closed to accomplish drying up the Lower Klamath Lake . Here again the natural process of lake regulation of Klamath River was lost and the flows of water below Keno materially changed.

In 1919, with the beginning of regulation of the Upper Klamath Lake , the regulation and control of water levels in the Klamath River between Klamath Falls and Keno became a serious problem. The Klamath River meandered around through swamp and overflowed lands for about 20 miles between Klamath Falls and Keno with a drop in water surface elevation of only one to three inches under normal flow conditions. About 15,000 acres of land could be affected by the fluctuations of the river. About 10,000 acres of this land had been diked, again adversely affecting natural flows in the river at Keno,

No particular problem occurred until 1927 when a large discharge in Klamath River allegedly broke a dike and flooded several thousand acres of diked land.  

The Bureau of Reclamation had in mind enlarging the Lost River diversion canal to carry more than the original 250-second feet, to better protect Tule Lake lands and it needed better control of the water at Keno reef. So the Bureau and Copco in a contract of July 3, 1930 provided that Copco would build a regulating dam at Keno reef and in so doing occupy part of the McCormick power site. Before work was started some 50 riparian landowners were required to give Copco releases from damage if water levels in the river were maintained within specified elevations.

A needle dam was completed December 12, 1931 . Prior to this date it took two to four days for releases of water from Upper Klamath Lake to reach Copco No. 1. By opening the new dam at Keno simultaneously with the gates at Link River dam, this time lag was cut to about 12 hours. And the Lost River Diversion canal became a "water level canal" wherein water up to 3000-second feet could be conveyed from Lost River to Klamath River or Klamath River to Lost River.

Langell Valley Lands

In 1924, a year of extremely low water, Copco needed additional water for generation of power at Copco No. 1 power plant.

Clear Lake reservoir had a surplus carry-over from preceding years of about 100,000 acre-feet. This water was not needed presently for the Langell Valley Irrigation District or for other users supplied from that source.

Arrangements were made with the Bureau to purchase 60,000 acre feet at $.20 per acre foot with the responsibility on Copco to run it through Langell Valley , Lost River and the Lost River diversion canal into the Klamath River above Keno.

The old original channel of Lost River through the floor of Langell Valley would not carry sufficient water without flooding about 6000 acres of the valley. The result was the purchase of a release from damages to hay and pasture lands from the landowners plus the loss of profit on some 858 range cattle nominally wintered in the valley. The net cost to the company for this water was about $.60 per acre-foot.

The Langell Valley Irrigation District board in 1926 planned to have the Reclamation Service construct a drain through the valley at an estimated cost of $50,000.00, but were un- able to obtain right of way over the Swingle property. It was suggested that Copco acquire this land, grant the right of way to the district, and in consideration receive from the district a contract permitting future use of the drainage ditch by the company.

This was done. The necessary improvements were made and Copco obtained the right to pass water over the diversion dam of the district, through Langell Valley into Lost River should the purchase of water again become necessary. Here again natural runoff of water was changed.  

Big Bend Project

Copco made no power developments in the Klamath Basin after 1924 on Link River , and 1925 on Klamath River at Copco No.2.

It had however kept up with its load growth by developing power elsewhere, at: 

Prospect 2,3 and 4 on the Rogue River                    40,200 KW

4 Diesel plants                                                       1,035 KW

Alturas hydroelectric                                                 450 KW

Toketee -         8 plants on the North Umpqua River

                                    (2 under construction)                    200,000 KW

                    Total 241,685 KW  

Upon completion of the last of the Toketee plants by 1956 other plants needed to be constructed shortly thereafter. In the early '20s Copco system load increased at about 4,000 to 5,000 KW per year. By 1957 this increase jumped to about 10,000 and 15,000 KW per year.

           So filings were made on the McCloud River on January 9, 1952 with the Federal Power Commission for development of about 250,000 KW there.

However, Klamath Canyon was most attractive, being near the Copco load center where construction cost and transmission lines would be minimum. It was therefore decided to make another attempt to secure necessary water rights in Oregon sufficient to justify construction.

The creation of the Hydroelectric Commission of Oregon in 1931 with amendments of the Legislative Act made it possible for a power company to obtain a license similar to a Federal Power Commission license for use of water in Oregon , for power purposes. Such a license could be obtained for use of water in the Klamath River without conflicting with the water rights of the U. S. Government and other irrigationists.

In 1951, the Klamath community was advised that a power plant would be built on the Klamath River below Keno if it was unanimously approved by all interested parties of the Klamath basin.

On February 15, 1951 , Copco authorized applications to the Federal Power Commission and the Hydroelectric Commission of Oregon to construct the Big Bend Plant on Klamath River 6 miles below Keno.

Because of the need to construct larger power developments adequate to meet the system demands, the plans were changed to combine two of the original projects with one of 88,000 KW capacity.

The purpose of applications at this time, perhaps four or five years in advance of need, was to determine what if any legal complications would arise which would delay the development or make it impossible to construct the plant. Based upon the experiences during 1925 to 1930 in Klamath regarding water rights, the outlook was not optimistic.

A plan was submitted covering development of the remaining undeveloped projects between Keno and Iron Gate and it incorporated additional storage at Aspen Lake . Applications to the Federal and State Commissions were mailed on April 16, 1951 .

Practically all the irrigation districts in the Klamath Reclamation Project joined in filing protests. The Secretary of Interior filed a protest, as did the Bureau of Reclamation and many individuals.

During the following months some resolutions favoring the project were filed. The Oregon State Federation of Labor at convention in Klamath Falls June 29, 1951 was an important one.

The deadline date for filing protest with the Federal Power Commission was July 19, 1951 . Some extension of time was given by the Hydroelectric Commission of Oregon.

On Friday, September 7, 1951, the State Hydroelectric Commission stated that no further hearings would be held and it was satisfied that if Copco could work out an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation for an extension of the contract to regulate the Upper Klamath Lake and presented it to the State Commission, no further questions would be raised over issuance of a state license to use the water.

            Hearings were held before the Federal Power Commission on June 3 and 4, 1952 and June 30, 1952 . Fifty-seven exhibits were filed and oral testimony was taken. Another hearing was held in Yreka on September 5, 1952 . Progress seemed slow and time was running out.

So on May 18, 1953 , Copco asked the Secretary of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation to withdraw their protests and consider extending the Upper Klamath Lake contract for the license period established by the Federal and State Commissions.

In May 1953 Copco completed negotiations with the Bureau of Reclamation to purchase the output of the Bureau's new 18,500 KW Greensprings plant on the system of the Talent Irrigation District ( Upper Klamath Basin ).

On January 7, 1955 the Secretary of Interior authorized negotiations on an extension .to the contract of  February 24, 1917 .

On August 5, 1955, the draft of a contract between the Department of Interior and Copco covering regulation of Upper Klamath Lake, pumping rights for the Klamath Project, water uses and other associated provisions were submitted to all interested parties and comments requested by September 1, 1955. If a contract was signed, copies were to be filed with the Federal Power Commission, Hydroelectric Commission of Oregon and the Public Utility Commissions of Oregon and California . Approval of these four commissions and the Bureau of Reclamation must be obtained before construction work could be started. Copco's revised plans provided for additional power developments to those proposed in the original filings. Total estimated cost, about $70,000,000.00. (See article in Electrical West May 1960.)

In a meeting in Sacramento September 28, 1955, a letter from Copco to the Oregon and California River Compact Commissions stated in part "that no Klamath water shall be used by Copco when it may be needed or required for use for domestic, municipal, or irrigation purposes within the Upper Klamath River Basin as defined in the compact; Provided nothing shall curtail or interfere with the water rights of Copco having a priority earlier than May 19, 1905; Provided further that all drainage and return flows shall be at a point above Keno."

The new agreement between Copco and the Bureau of Reclamation was completed January 3l, 1956. Work was authorized to start in June 1956 and Copco had obtained the unanimous support originally requested in 1951.

The Big Bend project was rushed to completion and 88,000 KW were added to the Copco system by October I, 1958


Big Bend Development

Dam: The dam is located on the Klamath River about one mile downstream from the bridge crossing of Oregon State Highway No.21. It is an earth fill type with clay core wall, overall crest length 692.6 feet, a crest width of 15 feet and is 68 feet above the stream bed. The earth fill section is 413.5 feet, spillway section 117.0 feet, intake section 48.5 feet and gravity section 113.6 feet. Crest elevation is 3,800.0 feet.

Reservoir: The reservoir capacity is 3,377 acre-feet, 1,397 acre-feet of which will be usable pondage. The normal water surface elevation is 3,793.0 feet with a normal low water surface of 3,788.0 feet. The reservoir extends upstream for a distance of approximately 3 miles.  

Tunnel: 74.50 feet -steel lined -16-foot diameter.

         1,587.72 feet -concrete lined -16-foot diameter, horseshoe shape.  

Waterways:    15.25 feet of concrete intake.

              638.41 feet of 14'0" I.D. steel pipe crossing the Klamath River on concrete piers.

    49.59 feet of 14'0" concrete conduit.

    36.00 feet of concrete transition.

6,271.62 feet of two wall concrete flume.

4,489.13 feet of one wall concrete flume.

   340.00 feet of concrete forebay.

 1,587.72 feet of concrete lined tunnel -16'0" diameter

 74.50 feet of steel lined tunnel -16'0" diameter (to the centerline of the surge    tank.)

Total length -2.56 miles.  

Penstock: The surge tank at the upper end of the penstock is 56.0 feet in height and 30 feet in     diameter (I.D.). The twin steel penstocks are 957.68 feet in length (true dimension, centerline of surge tank to centerline of unit, with inside diameters varying from 10'6" to 9'0" and plate thicknesses varying from 3/8" to 15/16".  

Head and Diversion.          Maximum static head -454 feet.

                                          Normal net effective head -440 feet.

                              Normal diversion -2,500 cubic feet per second.  

Power Plant: The power plant consists of two General Electric vertical generators each 42,100 KVA, 95% power factor, 3 phase, 60 cycle, 11,500 volt, 277 R.P.M. Nameplate rating 79,990 KW. The two Baldwin, Lima, Hamilton Corporation turbines are rated 56,000 H.P. each and are equipped with Pelton Type B Hydraulic governors. Capability is rated at 88,000 KW.

Substation: The power generated at 11.5 KV is transformed to 230 KV by two General Electric 42,300 KV A, 3 phase transformers which, together with the associated electrical equipment, are located adjacent to the power plant.  

Transmission: A 230 KV transmission Line No.59 connects the plant with the Company's existing system at Klamath Falls and Medford , Oregon . The length of this line is 69.9 miles and consists of wood two pole H frame structures, 40' steel crossarms, with 3-795 MCM ACSR conductors strung for heavy loading.  

Iron Gate Project

The April 16, 1956 application to appropriate water at Iron Gate was filed with the State of California . The permit from the State provided that "water uses at Iron Gate and the river below are subject to irrigation needs of Shasta Valley, namely, until March 1, 2006 -120,000 acre feet annually and ultimately 220,000 acre feet annually "

          On January 18, 1960 advice was received that a license for the Iron Gate project on the Klamath River had been approved by the Federal Power Commission. Iron Gate was completed and put into service January 13, 1962 .  

Iron Gate Development  

Dam: The dam is located on the Klamath River approximately 7 miles below the existing Copco No.2 power plant, in the Southwest 1/4, Section 9, Township 47 North, Range 5 West, Mount Diablo Meridian. It is an earth fill type with compacted clay core, concrete cutoff wall and grout curtain at base. The length at crest is approximately 685 feet and the height above stream bed is 173 feet. Crest elevation is 2,338 feet U.S.G.S. datum. The spillway is a free overflow, side channel type with a capacity of 32,000 cubic feet per second.

Reservoir: To be operated essentially as a re-regulating reservoir. The reservoir capacity is approximately 58,000 acre-feet. The normal operating water surface elevation is 2,328 feet with a normal low water surface elevation of 2,324 feet.

Tunnel: A 16-foot horseshoe shape tunnel, 969.2 feet in length under the right abutment of the dam. Will serve as a sluice and diversion during construction.

Penstock: 12-foot I.D. steel pipe through dam. Length -681.26 feet.

Head and Diversion:             Normal Static Head -158 feet.

         Normal Net Effective Head -154 feet.

                                 Normal Diversion -1,650 cubic feet per second.

Power Plant: One vertical reaction turbine rated at 25,000 H.P., direct connected to an 18,000 KW generator.

Substation: A substation adjacent to the powerhouse will contain a 3-phase transformer capable of stepping up the generator output voltage to 66 KV.

Transmission: A transmission line of standard wood pole construction will connect the sub- station with the applicant's existing transmission system at the Copco No.2 switchyard.

Roads: The reservoir will inundate some of the existing county road and approximately 61/2 miles will be relocated by the company. Upon completion of the project, the new road will be owned and maintained by the county.

Fish Facilities: In conjunction with the State of California , Department of Fish and Game, the company will provide a fish ladder, holding tanks, water pipe lines and egg taking facilities at the downstream toe of the dam. These facilities will be constructed to State specifications, and upon completion, will be owned and operated by the State.

Iron Gate dam, part of the Copco plan, dedicated February 3, 1962 , is an important milepost in the history of Klamath Water.

It was built where the iron colored bedrock stood almost vertically 250 feet above the river, and served as a control point.

            It had iron eyebolts drilled securely in the bedrock to hold log booms, which impounded and released logs from upstream as needed for the sawmill at Klamathon below.

It controlled the one-way county road cut in a bedrock shelf frequently subject to overflow.

It controlled the Klamath Lake Railroad at its five-mile post where a mile of 4% grade had to be built adverse to upstream freight hauling.

It marked the control of water surface fluctuations caused by load changes at Copco No.2 powerhouse, which had affected the river below.

It marked the end of fish migration from the Pacific Ocean and the construction of facilities for artificial propagation.

It marked the time when the States of California and Oregon solved the intricate problem of interstate water rights by creating a compact commission ratified by Congress to "promote the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development use, conservation and control of water in the Upper Klamath Basin in Oregon and California ."  


The Bureau of Reclamation and Copco continued to make studies relative to the value of additional storage of water at Steel Swamp , Clear Lake , Boundary and elsewhere. Also the downstream benefits which might accrue from power to warrant further irrigation developments were calculated. As in the beginning there were so many diverse opinions on the further use of Klamath Water that time passed with very little progress being made.

Fifty years had passed during this application of water to about one-half of the 600,000 acres of agricultural land, which could be eventually irrigated in the Upper Klamath Basin . It was reliably estimated that it would take another 75 years to complete the irrigation program.

It also had taken 50 years for the development of about one-half of the potential hydro- electric power (320,000 KW) in the Upper Klamath Basin below Keno.

The two, irrigation and power, developed parallel to and complimented each other.

Twenty years have now passed since the joint venture between the Department of Interior and Copco, which started February 24, 1917 , was extended to the year 2006.

Those interested in retaining and developing Klamath's greatest natural resource, "Water," should not be complacent. Who knows when somebody with plenty of money and plenty of votes may appropriate part of it and put it to beneficial use outside the basin of its origin? It is still the envy of much of the arid West.

On June 21, 1961 Copco was merged with Pacific Power & Light Company. At the dedication of Iron Gate on February 3, 1962 Pacific Power surprisingly announced that its directors had decided to rename the Big Bend Plant on the Klamath River below Keno.

Rededication was held on June 25, 1962 at the Big Bend Powerhouse and a luncheon was served at the Winema Hotel in Klamath Falls . At that time a pamphlet distributed to the public contained the following announcement: 


efits for residents of the area. It typifies the scope of the vision of John C. Boyle and the contributions he has made to the long-range planning for the full use of the water resources of the basin.

            A native of Siskiyou County , California , he began preparing for the profession of his choice at the University of California , and received his degree in civil engineering in 1910. Since then he has been employed as an engineer and construction superintendent and in management and executive positions by Pacific Power and the predecessor electric companies that have served the area.

John C. Boyle's first job was field surveying for the Siskiyou Electric Power & Light Company. It led to his assignment in 1916-1918 as the superintendent of construction of a 135-foot- high dam and the 20,000-kilowatt Copco No.1 powerhouse by a successor company, The California Oregon Power Company, at a site he had located during his first survey work.

The concept of providing for regulation of Upper Klamath Lake and reclamation of marsh lands was made feasible a few years later when he completed the engineering and building of the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls. Together with related channel dredging and diking, the dam has made it possible to greatly expand the basic agricultural economy of the region.

During the decades of the 1920s and 1930s, he devoted his engineering talents to building the modern electric power system that has served the growing area so well. In this period he also investigated the hydroelectric potential of the Klamath, Rogue and North Umpqua river basins. From these studies Boyle developed in the 1940s and 1950s the plans for the future use of sites providing the most economical power supplies available for the Company's customers.

Mr. Boyle became the Vice President and General Manager and Chief Engineer of The California Oregon Power Company in 1941. Beginning in 1945 he guided the Company into a decade of record expansions of its generating capacity. The work centered on the North Umpqua River , a region of deep canyons and timbered mountains, where the formidable construction problems posed new tests of his engineering knowledge, experience and judgement. A unique project, its eight plants are designed to use repeatedly the limited flow of the river in a stair-step series of remote-controlled turbine-generators. The achievement won an accolade from the Professional Engineers of Oregon, who named him Oregon 's Engineer of the Year for 1951.

While completing the North Umpqua project, he reviewed his earlier surveys of the Klamath and other rivers. These studies looking to future developments, and a new agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation for the continued operation of the Link River Dam as the regulator for Upper Klamath Lake resulted in the start of work in 1956 on the project that hereafter will bear the name of John C. Boyle.

It is very appropriate that a dynamic and useful development such as this hydroelectric project should carry his name in recognition of his outstanding engineering services to the Company and as a testimonial to the qualities of leadership he has given to the task of building the region it serves.

Presented to Luncheon Program Guests

 Winema Hotel, Klamath Falls , Oregon

June 25, 1962




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