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Klamath County Commissioner’s Meeting

March 16, 2004 Notesby Barb Hall, Klamath Bucket Brigade


Dave Sabo, Manager of the Klamath Basin Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) office addressed the Klamath County Commissioner’s this morning on the Long Lake feasibility study, the summer water supply, and the 2004 water bank.  Dan Fritz, BOR coordinator of the Klamath Conversation Implementation Program (CIP) also gave a presentation on the CIP.


Dave Sabo:


Long Lake – the preliminary feasibility study is done and the results look very positive.  There seems to be enough fill available on site to take care of any seeps.  BOR is going to expend the money for boring tests this summer.  The preliminary geological study is also positive for storage of up to 500,000 acre-feet


An estimate for a full blown feasibility study could take 3 years and cost 12 to 15 million which Congress would have to fund.


Sabo seems very positive for going forward on the Long Lake plan; but he said that he’s received negative comments from the downstream environmental groups that say we’d be taking water away from the river during the winter.


Elliott stated that he had received a letter from the Hoopa Tribe stating that they are in favor of the Long Lake project.


Sabo stated that we need a long term solution and Agency Lake Ranch, Tulana Farms, and the Barns Ranch property are all short term solutions.


Concerning the boring tests set up for this summer, Elliott stated that he had seen Dr. Creswell’s irrigation well boring report and that there is at least 70 feet of 3 different types of clay at the top of the +600 foot well.  Sabo acted surprised and delighted to hear this.  If the entire floor of Long Lake valley has up to 70 feet of clay, seepage should not be a problem.


Water Supply – looks good for this summer.  130% of normal in the snow pack and we’ve received 100% of normal precipitation.  BOR received a preliminary water year report yesterday and it looks like we’ll be at the high end of a below water year type.


Sabo stated, “We’re going to be in good shape as long as the inflows don’t drop off.  And we should meet the March month end lake level requirements.”


Steve West stated that he’d talked to the National Park Service at Crater Lake and they told him that the snow pack at Crater Lake is the 5th highest since they started keeping records.


John Elliott stated that he’s noticed parts of the Tulelake and Lower Klamath Lake Wildlife refuges that haven’t had water in years are flooded this spring.  Sabo credited water from Klamath River and well pumpers in California.


2004 Water Bank – This year’s water bank requires 75,000 acre-feet of water for downstream Tribal Trust.


Sabo has 3,000 acres of land idling signed up and ground water substitution of 10,000 acre-feet.  The rest will come from up stream (Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust).


Because of worries about pumping from the aquifer, Sabo is asking Cal-Poly and the US Geological Society to come in to analysis, using scientific measures; the water bank program well pumping and land idling.


One major solution to the Klamath Water Crisis has been mentioned, i.e.; downsizing the Klamath Project.  Sabo is not in favor of this solution because of the way the Project is designed and structured, downsizing is not feasible.


Side note:   Sabo mentioned that re-consulting is starting by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)/NOAA on the Coho Biological Opinion.


Dan Fritz, BOR CIP Coordinator:


Dan announced that the second draft of the CIP was released yesterday (March 15, 2004) to the public for comments.  He gave a short presentation about the changes between the first draft and the second that mirrored his presentation at the Watershed Conference last month.  (See my notes from the Watershed Conference for more detail)


Key revisions:


  1. Purpose of the CIP has revised and expanded beyond saving the suckers and coho to include other species (Chinook for example) in the Klamath River basin but still leave water for humans, i.e. irrigation, manufacturing, etc.  Tribal Trust has also been added.


  1. The second draft clarifies that the CIP is to be implemented using local groups that are already in place.  And that anyone or group interested in joining in the process will be welcomed at the table.


  1. The organization has been expanded to include a Tribal Trust Committee.


  1. A coordination council will be the head of the process.
    5.  The second draft has dropped the consensus process for decision making.    
         Instead it will be a “super majority” rule.


Public meetings for public comment on the second draft will be scheduled for this summer for input on what the public wants the condition of the basin to be in the future and to find common ground.


By late summer, BOR will start working on the final draft of the CIP which will include development, implementation and funding.  This will solely be a BOR project.


Steve West stated, “I’m pleased that the BOR has really listened to people and has changed the CIP to reflect the peoples concerns.”  “The CIP is the best game in town and a piece of the puzzle that’s been missing.”  “BOR is the mid-wife of the CIP but the local people will have to raise it.”  “(The CIP) is a way to look at the entire Klamath River Basin from the headwaters to the mouth.”


Fritz:  “The program is just a piece of paper, it’s going to be action not words on paper that’s going to get this accomplished.”


Sabo:  “Other conservations done in the basin by the watershed groups has been accomplished by good will.  Now a federal agency is involved and this thing will move forward.”


West:   “Tribal Trust is the responsibility of the entire US government not just the BOR, USF&WS, and NOAA.”



The Klamath County Commissioner’s hearing will be rebroadcast on cable channel 3 Wednesday evening at 7 pm.






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