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Klamath Courier, Fort Jones, California

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Vol  , No.

Page  , column  

 

 Irrigators and BOR share historic birthday


By Pat Ratliff, Klamath Courier staff writer

 

KLAMATH FALLS - A crowd of over 230 people celebrated the centennial birthday of both the Klamath Project and the Bureau of Reclamation  Tuesday, at the Klamath Water Users Association  annual meeting at Reames Country Club.
Demonstrating the significance of the event,  Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner John Keys attended the ceremony, along with Klamath Falls  Mayor Todd Kellstrom, District Attorney Ed Caleb,  Sheriff Tim Evinger, and Klamath County  Commissioners Al Swietzer, John Elliott and Bill Brown.
"We are not only celebrating a valuable public  and private partnership, but we also celebrate  this project."  Greg Addington told the crowd,  "The Klamath Project is the most efficient and  beneficial in the world.  Water used to come to this basin to die via evaporation, now, because  of this project and affordable power, that water is recirculated up to seven times and ultimately finds its way to the Klamath River, where the
water provides fuel for power generation and  increased flows for fish.  In addition, this
project provides some of the best wildlife and  waterfowl habitat in the country."
Addington's words were not lost on most in the crowd, with increased fish counts on most rivers  while commercial fishermen are forced to curtail fishing by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Two days later, California was in the middle of its first power emergency of the season, not being able to generate enough power to cope with only 90+ degree highs.

"Today, we work on issues like TMDL's, flow studies, recovery planning, biological opinions, power rates and reclamation contracts.  We do public relations and education using science and facts to support our positions."  Addington continued,   "We work with a myriad of federal, state and local agencies whose names and programs are branded in our minds by the acronyms that define them.  We learn the processes, the laws and the regulations.  We go to Salem, Sacramento and Washington D.C. to lobby elected officials. We defend our beliefs and values in the courts, where we assert what we know to be our rights."
Steve Kandra, President of the KWUA Board of Directors, also spoke of the work being done by the group.
"In partnership with Reclamation, the Water Users are promoting work done by the National Academy of Science to see that endangered species recovery is properly dealt with on a watershed wide basis, instead of the unjust and impractical focus on the Klamath Irrigation Project operations."  Kanda said,   "Soon, an 'Undepleted Flow Study' will have cleared peer review and will be available to correct flawed historical water flow perceptions and demands contained in current Biological Opinions.  There is now political inertia to update the Endangered Species Act to provide better science and
technical review, along with protecting the property rights of others."
Scott Seus, Chairman of the KWUA Power Committee, told of the five attorneys working for the group, and explained each of the venues they work in.
"Sound expensive? Make no mistake about it, it is."  Seus told the group, "Much of the KWUA budget and time is being spent on the power issue. I assure you, it is a worthy cause.
Consider this, were we to go to tariff rates that PacifiCorp proposes tomorrow, your power rates may go up as much as 2500% what you currently pay. Not only would this affect your bottom line, but also the integrity of an ecosystem that relies on irrigated agriculture to support the 470 species that call the Klamath Basin home.
Through EQIP, we the Klamath Basin farmers and the Federal government will have invested 75 million dollars in irrigation efficiency by the end of 2007 in an effort to do our part to make the best use of the water that we use irrigate these lands. That efficiency is tied to a meter base at the end of a pump switch. Best use will be overcome by economics, and economics say flood irrigation will be more cost effective. Drainage
pumps would become too cost prohibitive to operate, and thus the Refuge Complex will go dry.
Water quality both here in the Basin and downriver will decline. Temperature of water will soar in stagnate pools of water that abound due to a lack of drainage pumping. Incidentally, the ratepayers throughout the PacifiCorp territory will ultimately suffer as well. Efficient use of water here in the Klamath Basin and drainage pumping out of the project results in more water in the Klamath River to be run through the generators that provide clean, renewable, low cost power to the rest of the PacifiCorp ratepayers. To replace that power with natural gas fired generation at today's prices. Let's just say there is no carpooling in fossil fuel fired generation."
Dave Solem, Manager of the Klamath Irrigation District was the Associations Leadership Award winner, while Lynn Long won the "Community Service Award.
 

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