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Herald and News  


Klamath Basin water dilemma not really a science problem


by Wilma Heiney

Guest columnist


Published March 8, 2004 - pg A8


Regarding the Feb. 16 op/ed page featuring John Keyes, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commissioner 

and Felice Pace, self-declared environmentalist, about our Basin's ecology and water management.


"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."


There never was a problem in the first place.  The whole river system ran like clockwork and was even 

exalted for its efficiency of water use.


The sucker fish are not scarce and never were.  The listing as "endangered," the economic impact 

statement, critical habitat, and the goals that would allow delisting were all determined inter-agency

like, even though there were public meetings.


The recent "science conference," held here in early February, was televised on Channel 7.  Was

Dave Vogel invited to present his recorded biology?  I missed him on the program, if he was included.


Blame it on money


The coho salmon are not scarce either.  So why has all of this 20 years of misery happened. and why

is it still happening?  The root of all evil is money.


The $105 million proposed in the U.S. 2005 budget has not been approved, and I agree with Pace, it is 

pork barreling and will do little or no good at all.  There is nothing else that I have ever agreed with Pace

about.  This money is probably a carrot on a string and will never arrive anyway.


If the $4.9 million, reserved for additional storage, in this proposed budget, could be used to dredge out the

bottom of Upper Klamath Lake, that would then be beneficial and make sense.  Deepening the lake and

cleaning out some of the algae would improve the quality and quantity of the lake water.


The much-heralded fish screen was to cost $5 million and is now reported costing $18 million.  It must work

because the egrets and black-crested night herons along our canals no longer have any food.


Paying farmers not to receive water is a never-ending process.  If they have no water right, why has the U.S.

government paid them not to receive water?  The truth is, they do have water rights.  The Klamath River Compact

is their guarantee to receive irrigation water.  The compact was ratified by the U.S. Congress and also by the

states of Oregon and California.  Somehow, the powers that be have chosen to snicker at the Klamath River Compact

and have even arbitrarily changed the priority use of water.


The "no science" report by the National Academy of Science should have triggered reconsultation of the

Bureau of Reclamation's long-range operations plan.  It didn't work.  The irrigators will never receive water as

long as the present operations plan is in place.


The Klamath River does not need any water from Klamath Lake during the months of November through February

if there is any snow or rain at all because of the runoff from the mountains.  The Basin's water dilemma is not a 

science problem, but actually needs or requires a criminal justice investigation.


The Indian Treaty give the Indians the right to "hunt, fish, and gather."  The Adair case, a decision by one judge, has

been interpreted by the Tribes as meaning a guarantee for any water necessary to provide the ability to "hunt, fish, 

or gather."


This is an unquantified amount of water, and any judgment should be subject to appeal.


I'm sure the Chiloquin Dam could be removed for less than $2.1 million - maybe no money at all.  It could probably

be done by a couple of farmers with their Caterpillar tractors and chains, but the lawsuits that would follow, would

be unbearable.  There really is no answer for a problem that didn't exist in the first place.


The irrigation districts and the water users association have spent what seems like, millions of dollars trying to stay

abreast and combat this horrible situation that we are all embroiled in.  The farmland here is worthless without water.  

The summer of 2001 was the only year this 1932 homestead was unable to produce a crop to sustain itself and the

veteran's family who lives upon this land.


This is the place in this letter to say, "the bucket brigade" of 2001 was the most amazing experience of my life - all of

the people and everything working so well.  Also, "the tea party" headgate standoff was probably the reason that we 

received the nationwide and long-lasting knowledge of our predicament.


Now, the coho salmon in the south river are in the process of being named "endangered."  They are abundant and should

not be listed, but the beat goes on.


The Bay-Delta Accord, or Cal-Fed water agreement, lessened the water diversion from the Trinity into the Klamath.

Instead, it was diverted down the Sacramento.


'Pretend' problems


Sea lion protection has increased the sea lion population, and therefore, the amount of salmon consumption.  Similarly, the 

cougar protection, plus the mismanaged forest, has caused the cats to attack man.


Must there be all of these horrendous problems for you to be able to receive your paycheck?  If your paycheck fits

within this conclusion, then consider the charge.  Most of us do not depend upon pretend problems to make our living.

We have plenty of problems just meeting nature in a true, observant and logical way.


We are all environmentalists.  No one wants to ruin the environment in any way, but we need common sense and

balance to manage our resources, just as man was directed to do by our Creator.


Man has dominion over the animals and the land, and he has been given the responsibility and necessary duty

to manage them.  To neglect and ignore these responsibilities, even if it were in the hope of natural being best,

is wasteful of our resources.



The author


Wilma Heiney and her husband, Richard, farmed in the local area for 47 years and are now retired.  They depend on

income from the rental on their farm property.  She has lived in the Basin all her life, has attended many meetings

affecting water and was appointed to the Water Resources Advisory Committee by the Klamath County Commissioners

in 1996.


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