Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

 Honor the Klamath Water Users
Klamath Water Users Association invites you to attend their annual meeting celebrating 100 years of the Klamath Project
By Klamath Courier Reporter 10/4/05

Please honor the Klamath Water Users with your presence at their annual meeting October 11th at Reames Golf and Country Club.

  • Heroes? Yes, heroes! -

When you awoke this morning to the sound of wheel line sprinklers and frogs and ducks in the ditches, if you are a Klamath Basin resident, you’ll thank God that water is still coming to the farms and wildlife. That’s because you lived through 2001, when the federal government shut off water to 1400 family farms. You remember the dry parched fields, dust storms, exodus of farm laborers, dead wildlife, auctions and depression.

Bureau of Reclamation photo. Project irrigators have farmed the reclaimed lakes in the Klamath Basin for 100 years, growing potatoes, grain, mint, horseradish, peas, alfalfa, onions, garlic and strawberries. Local farms and ranches contribute $200 million annually to the Klamath Basin economy.

You remember the betrayal felt by the settlers, and by the World War veterans who received land to farm. This gift of land was to honor them for their service in foreign wars so they could grow food for "a hungry nation".
When you thank God for water in the ditches, you might want to thank Klamath Water Users Association members too, along with your Irrigation District Board.
  What have they done?

Prior to 2001, your water representatives attended many meetings, met with tribes, and kept current on all the science and regulations. They dealt with water quality, water adjudication, political agendas, and kept the moss out of the ditches and water flowing to the fields and refuges.

In 2001, these board members attended meetings almost every day, many times back-to-back from 7 a.m. til midnight, day after day. They knew the science, and that the agenda-driven biological opinions were wrong. How could a document, commissioned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be used against the irrigators in water adjudication, be used to create a biological opinion to take away water deeded to family farms and ranches? How could a historic lake, rerouted into canals and ditches and storage and refuges, be dewatered for three species of fish, decimating 489 other species? How could a fish, whose numbers total tens of thousands, be considered ‘endangered’ in the first place?

These men, along with countless members of the business and farm community, have strived to end the nightmare of flawed, agenda-driven science and tactics to dismantle the Klamath Project.

They did not have a voice, so they created ways to get the voice of their community heard. KWUA board and community members have assembled two Congressional hearings in Klamath Falls in the past 5 years, held press conferences, learned the contacts for local, regional and national media, and now they are known by name. They have educated their representatives regarding the Project issues. More than a million dollars has been spent on legal fees to protect the water rights of their community’s farms and ranches. Dozens of people met weekly for a year, for hours at a time, to create a water bank to prevent a future "2001" from occurring again. They supported a fish screen to keep "endangered’ suckers out of the canals, and urged the Department of the Interior to enlist the National Academy of Science to peer-review the flawed science created to shut down The Project. They know all about TMDL’s, water quality requirements regarding water run-off from fields, adding dozens of meetings to their busy schedules. And these folks have dropped everything they were doing to fly to Sacramento, Salem, Washington DC, or drive hundreds of miles to represent their community for whatever reason regarding water.

Today KWUA addresses new issues and challenges
* The KWUA waterbank was thrown out and another one has replaced it that does not work. It is based on the flawed biological opinion, taking 100,000 acre-feet of stored irrigation water and aquifer to send to the Klamath Lake and river.

Tule Lake circa 1900

* Pacific Power wants to raise the irrigator’s power rate 1400 percent in 2006. This disregards the Klamath River Compact agreement with the irrigators to get a reasonable power rate in exchange for the free water to make power that was not available before the Project was built.
* A federal judge ruled that Project irrigators do not own their water rights, like the ones in your files that are signed by the President of the United States.
* Coalitions of environmental groups blame the Klamath Project for every fish problem in the Klamath River and the entire West Coast, and they want to dismantle the Project.
* Groups of environmentalists and tribes and politicians want all the dams removed from the Klamath River, which would raise power rates, allow floods, dismantle the Project, and the Link River again would go dry like it did sometimes before the Project was built.
Water Users and community members are meeting these challenges:
* They organized a Congressional Hearing in 2004 to allow the Congressmen to hear statements from witnesses, which included a renown scientist, WWII veteran homesteader, hispanic farmer, California Waterfowl representative, California Assemblyman, tribes and commercial fishermen, and regional managers of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Marine Fishery Service. Congressmen questioned the government agency reps regarding the current 100,000 acre foot waterbank based on false science. They questioned the 2001 water shut off. They questioned the Endangered Species Act that does not allow suckers to be delisted when there are tens of thousands more than believed to have existed when they were listed as ‘endangered.’
* KWUA formed a team of people to study power issues, hired power attorneys and consultants, and have continue to defend the community’s legal right to affordable power.
* They hired attorneys and attended court hearings to defend the farmers’ right to water that is included in their deed.
* KWUA has met with tribes and commercial fishermen to understand each other’s issues. They learned that most of the fishermen are supportive of Klamath irrigators and they do not feel water should be taken from farmers and dumped into the ocean.
 The Bureau of Reclamation
KWUA and the Bureau of Reclamation have been partners for 100 years since the building of the Klamath Project. After the 2001 water shut-off, the Bureau encouraged the National Academy of Science to peer review the science forming the biological opinion used to shut down the Project. The committee found that the water shut-off was not justified.
The Bureau also initiated the Undepleted Flow Study, which shows how much water was in Klamath River before the Project was built. Eventually there will be a reconsultation on the flawed biological opinion that is based on flawed science.
Other projects being sought by the Bureau is water storage. Water users are interested in deep, cold storage such as Long Lake, and not shallow swamps that will evaporate more water than they store.
 Klamath Water Users, the organization
The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) is a non-profit corporation that has represented Klamath Irrigation Project farmers and ranchers since 1953. KWUA members include rural irrigation districts and other public agencies, as well as private interests that operate on both sides of the California-Oregon border.

KWUA focuses on issues that affect thousands of people dependent on the Project, including farm and ranch families, local businesses, and our rural communities. Local water users also play an important role in Klamath Basin wildlife conservation activities, including efforts to provide water to two national wildlife refuges. KWUA has supported hundreds of environmental conservation efforts on public and private property.
 Klamath Water Users, the community
When many people think of KWUA, they think of the official board of directors. Water Users have several committees to deal with specific issues. They created a power committee, public relations committee, legal, and the list goes on. Community members participate on these committees and are encouraged to do so.
"Water Users is more than the executive board; it’s thousands of hours of efforts from people that are involved and devoted to the Klamath Basin," said Rob Crawford, KWUA board member and chairman of the public relations committee.

Bureau of Rec photo: In the Tulelake Basin, the U.S. government allowed farmland to be homesteaded with preference to war veterans.  This photo was taken after WWII at a Bureau of Reclamation drawing from a pickle jar.  Deeds to land with water appurtenant to that land were signed by the President of the United  States.
The Annual Meeting celebrating 100 years of the Klamath Project
This centennial celebration is an opportunity for us to look back at the last 100 years and be proud of what has been accomplished here," said Greg Addington, KWUA Executive Director. "This is a joint celebration with our partners the Bureau of Reclamation. This is not only a time to stand up and be recognized with our partners but it is a time, more than ever, for our partners to stand tall with us. With all the controversy and strife that agriculture in this Basin is put through, we sometimes forget the real story, the success story."
KWUA’s annual meeting will be on October 11, 2005 at Reames Golf and Country Club at 5:30 P.M. for no-host bar and 6:30 for hors d’oeuvres buffet and dessert. Cost is $10/person.

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys will be the keynote speaker. This is also an opportunity to hear and meet other speakers: Greg Addington, KWUA Executive Director, Steve Kandra, president KWUA Board of Directors, and Scott Seus, KWUA power committee chairman.
KWUA will present a 17-minute film by Anders Tomlinson. Crawford explains that it clarifies and gives a foundation of the watershed and the history of the Klamath Project.
 Please attend, and thank a Klamath Water Users director  
Please R.S.V.P. Mari and Klamath Water Users this week if you plan to attend by calling 541 883-6100. Come and support your KWUA board of directors and those who are working to keep affordable power rates and gain water certainty. They would like to update you on their efforts.




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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