Klamath Water Users Association

2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3

Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603

(541)-883-6100 FAX (541)-883-8893


May 5, 2004

Medford Mail Tribune

Letters to the Editor
Box 1108
Medford, OR 97501

Dear Editor:

According to the Mail Tribune, to avoid depleting groundwater, the "only" solution for the Klamath is to buy out "willing sellers" to reduce the demand for irrigation water ("Mining water in the basin").

Donít blame the farmers for increased groundwater pumping in the Klamath Project. The new pumping is a direct result of a federal fishery agency biological opinion that mandates a steadily escalating water bank schedule to pump groundwater and idle farmland, regardless of actual hydrologic conditions. This year, the water bank requirement is 75,000 acre-feet; next year it jumps to 100,000 acre-feet.

The artificially high lake and river flow levels supported by the water bankĖ such as those that contributed to the 2001 curtailment of Upper Klamath Lake irrigation supplies - have been questioned by the National Academy of Sciences.

It is not the farmers who have imposed new water demands that have led to greater dependence on groundwater. Rather it is the opinions of agency biologists who have fundamentally altered how our century-old water project operates. Changing the flawed biological opinion would appear to be a reasonable alternative to the "final" solution offered up by the Mail Tribune.



Dan Keppen

Executive Director