Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Chadwick Workshop Day #1
3/15/05 by KBC
TULELAKE, CA (KP) Today was day one of the Chadwick workshop at the Winema Lodge, by Tule Lake Refuge. Around 20 people farmers, government agency representatives and facilitators met to educate the government agencies about Klamath Basin water issues, and the rest of the week many more irrigators and stakeholders will participate.
Bob Chadwick, Consensus Associates, was asked by Alice Kilham, Hatfield Committee, to facilitate groups in the Klamath watershed since he was successful near Klamath in salvaging some logging in this vicinity while other places were shut down by 'environmentalists' and government agencies.
In 2004, the Chadwick team went to Scott Valley, Sommes Bar, and Klamath, California, at the mouth of the Klamath River. His group will meet here the rest of this week. The purpose is to have the various stakeholders get acquainted and find ways to work out differences.
After everyone introduced themselves, each irrigator picked a government agency person to be the listener; then the listener told the irrigator what they thought they heard.
Most of the irrigators picked on Irma Lagomarsino, supervisor of the National Marine Fisheries Service field office in Arcata, California, to be their listener, since the NMFS is the agency that made the biological opinion that shut down the Klamath Project in 2001.
Some of the issues that the irrigators expressed were:
Most of the irrigators expressed their frustration with the flawed Hardy reports. Dr. Hardy, hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Justice to create science to go against the irrigators in water adjudication. He created mandatory river flows based on the highest water years in history after the Project was built, and stakeholders and their scientists were not allowed at the table.
The Klamath Project created storage in Klamath Lake which make possible higher than historical lake levels, and the River flows after the Project were higher than before the Project. So it concerns the irrigators that these artificially high lake levels and river flows are mandated by the NMFS since they would not be attainable in natural conditions before the Project was built.
The National Research Council said, in their peer-reviewed final report, that these artificially-high lake levels and river flows mandated by the NMFS are scientifically "not justified", so the irrigators feel that the best available science should be used.
The waterbank this year is taking over 100,000 acre feet of our irrigation water to send down the river on a drought year. It is not for irrigation or for drought emergencies, but only to send down the river to make artificially elevated river flows along with lake levels.
The NMFS biological opinion and Fish and Wildlife opinion are not the same.
With single species management of our water, in 2001, the other 489 species of wildlife were severely harmed along with our community's people and economy.
On high water years there were several fish kills. In low water years there have been no fish kills. So, if one were to create biological opinions on historical data, raising lake levels and river flows will be likely to cause fish kills, and these are the conditions mandated by the biological opinions.
The government agencies are taking our cold water from our wells and making us irrigate our crops with it while they are sending our warm stored irrigation water down the river to possibly kill fish.
Our aquifer is being depleted five feet per year according to Oregon Department of Water Resources and this mandatory annual waterbank is not allowing our aquifer to recharge.
With the water shutoff in 2001, over 200 wells went dry or became disabled, so the water withheld from our fields then could not return to the refuges, then the river.
Since our lakes were up to 25 feet deep and the irrigators diverted this water down the Klamath River, is does not make sense to the irrigators that their stored water, and also their aquifer, is being demanded from them when their land included water in the deed. It did not, however, include the full 25 feet, but only approximately 2 1/2 feet.
The amount of water evaporated before the Klamath Project was built was the same or more than the amount of water used to irrigate crops and water livestock.
The agencies keep asking the irrigators to come together and come up with solutions, so the following are some that were brought up:
The irrigators found Long Lake storage many years
ago and the agencies are still studying it.
The irrigators have done hundreds of conservation and riparian projects.
The irrigators formed a waterbank for low-water years even though they didn'tbelieve that they should have to put more water down the river than historically justified. This grass-roots waterbank that would work for species and agriculture was thrown out by the Bureau of Reclamation, which proceeded to make it's own waterbank, demanding 100,000 acre feet of water from the irrigators even in high water years, and in low water years it will deplete our irrigation storage.
Frustration was expressed that the media and 'environmental groups' continue to spread untruths about our farm practices and our use of our water.
The agency people and representatives did a fine job of repeating the irrigators' concerns and they thanked us for coming. Tomorrow the group looks forward to visiting with more irrigators, community members, the Tribes who are presently in Sacramento protesting the existence of our dams, and some 'environmentalists.'
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