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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Klamath Water Users Association

Public Information Meeting

Klamath County Fairgrounds

April 7, 2004


Welcome and Introductions by Steve Kandra, KWUA President:

Steve reminded us that yesterday was the third anniversary of the announcement that we would not get irrigation water in the Klamath Project in 2001.

2004 is the 50th Anniversary of the Klamath Irrigation District and the 100th Anniversary of the Van Brimmer Ditch Company.

Steve then went on to introduce the board members of the Klamath Water Users Association.


Water Users Updates:

Association Overview by Dan Keppen, Executive Director:

Dan informed the audience that the KWUA Annual Meeting will be in July

this year and the keynote speaker will be a high profile special guest.

Dan listed the future opportunities ahead for the Klamath Project irrigators:

  1. Watershed wide approach to the water crisis and water supply
  2. Increased and focused attention on the Klamath Basin from the federal government
  3. Increased attention by the state governments of Oregon and California, Tribes, and stakeholders up and down the river


  Legal and Science Issues by Dave Solem, Chairman of the KWUA Legal and Science Committee, Klamath Irrigation District:

Dave did a quick update on all the legal cases facing the Klamath Project. Some are stalled, some are awaiting judgment, and some still haven’t gone to trial.

Dave reminded us that the Draft Critical Habitat for the Columbia and Klamath River Basin Bull Trout was out and comments needed to be sent in by May 5th.

Re-consultation on the Sucker and Coho BO’s will start but more science is needed. Dave Vogel, Fish Biologist has put out many new scientific studies on the Coho which will help.

Other projects that KWUA is supporting and working on include:

  1. Long Lake storage review
  2. Coho delisting
  3. Chiloquin Dam removal
  4. With the BOR, effectiveness of the new A Canal fish screen

Dave talked about the Upper Basin Science Workshop that was held here in Klamath Falls back in February. He announced that there will be a Lower Basin Science Workshop in June.


  Power Update, Lynn Long, Chairman of the KWUA Power Committee, Klamath Drainage District:

The Water Users Power Committee, in existence for the past five years; has been working on trying to get a comparative power rate for irrigators in the Klamath Project. Our current contract with PacifiCorp expires in 2007.

Water Users have hired Cable Houston, a Portland legal firm that is experienced in power rate negotiations and has our lead consultant. 20% of the KWUA’s yearly budget has been appropriated to the Power Committee to pay for the negotiations and consulting. Feelings were that PacifiCorp was stalling the negotiations and wouldn’t sit down at the table but when KWUA hired Cable Houston, they are now willing to talk about a new power rate contract.

The Power Committee looked into 4 different solutions:

  1. We could generate our own power – too expensive
  2. We could aggregate – form a power buyers co-op
  3. Pass legislation by fiat that would solve our problems
  4. Negotiate with PacifiCorp for a new power rate

KWUA has decided to go with option #4 after all the options were looked at.

Discussions between KWUA, Cable Houston, and PacifiCorp are attorney/client related so Lynn couldn’t go into details. And members of the Power Committee have garnered federal support for our position.

JW Cope from Tulelake is working on a "white paper" that will detail the historic progression of past power contracts and it should be available soon.

Lynn invited everyone to attend the Power Committee meetings which have been ongoing for the past 5 years.



Public Relations, Rob Crawford, Tulelake:

One of the purposes of the Public Relations Committee of KWUA is to keep people informed and the Weekly Update is part of that purpose. Another is to correct "mis-information" in the press and to build networks with other Ag groups around the nation. KWUA has been very successful.

Rob also mentioned the KWUA delivered 1,500 pages of documents to the NAS while they were doing their review of the Klamath Basin. Some of this data had never seen the light of day before KWUA presented it.

Wrap Up, Dan Keppen:

Keppen thanked our government officials who have taken on this sticky problem – President Bush, Greg Walden, Gordon Smith, Doolittle, Herger, Oregon Governor Kulongoski, Steve Harper, Klamath County Commissioners, and California County Supervisors.


Oregon Water Resource Dept (OWRD) Update, Barry Norris:

Barry thanked all the landowners for access to their land for all the groundwater studies that the OWRD is conducting in the Klamath Basin and apologized for the studies taking so long. Their preliminary report is done and they are receiving back positive peer review comments. The final report should be out in late May.

OWRD and the USGS are working on a co-op study on ground water which will include a complete mapping of the groundwater and a static model on the limits of the groundwater. This report should be out early next spring.

One thing they have noticed this spring during this study is that some wells have declined 3 to 4 feet which shows that we are still in "drought" mode. Oregon Governor Kulongoski has declared Klamath County a drought area.

Part of these studies has found places in the Project where pumping groundwater for the water bank is not feasible and other areas where the most pumping can take place. This information was shared with the BOR to help them decide which contracts to sign for the water bank. Additional information will be gained on our groundwater when the OWRD checks these wells before water bank pumping begins and again after the season.


  2004 Klamath Project Ops and Water Bank, Dave Sabo, US Bureau of Reclamation, Klamath Area Office:

Sabo: "Reclamation has been a partner with the Klamath irrigators for 99 years and we appreciate that partnership."

Sabo: "As a government agency, we have to follow the laws of the United States." "We have to work within the confines of the law."

Sabo: "BOR’s main goal is to manage this irrigation project on your behalf."

Sabo: "We have to live with the BO’s as they are written until we come up with scientific information to re-consult." But Dave also mentioned that since the NAS report came out, he’s been finding some flexibility on the parts of USF&WS and NOAA.

Sabo: "The water bank data is going to show that downsizing Ag in the Upper Basin is not going to add water to down stream flows in the spring because farmers aren’t using that much water in the spring."

Sabo: "Would like to end 2005 – our 100th Anniversary in the basin – with a new BO on the Coho."

Dave then spoke about the 2004 Operations Plan:

  1. The plan provides an estimate of project water supply
  2. The plan is a planning aid for Ag water users, Tribes, wildlife refuges, and other parties
  3. As of yesterday, our snow pack stood at 92% of normal and the estimated inflow into Upper Klamath Lake is 420,000 acre-feet.
  4. This year will be a "Below Average" year type for both the lake levels and for river flows
  5. The minimum amount of water from Upper Klamath Lake for irrigation delivery will be 355,000 acre-feet, 71,300 acre-feet for the East Side, and 25,000 acre-feet for the refuges

The Water Bank:

  1. Requires 75,000 acre-feet this year and that water will come from the following:
  • Spill from Upper Klamath Lake
  • 10,000 acre-feet from land idling
  • 25,000 acre-feet from groundwater
  • 13,000 acre-feet from refuge storage
  • 12,000 acre-feet from Agency Lake Ranch storage
  • 13,000 to 15,000 acre-feet from Rangeland Trust

Add the numbers up and it’s more than the 75,000 acre-feet required and doesn’t take into account the spill from Upper Klamath Lake,



  Conservation Implementation Program (CIP), Chris Karas, Deputy Director, US Bureau of Reclamation, Klamath Area Office:

I have put out much information about the CIP over the past couple of months – from the Watershed Conference and other sources. Chris’s presentation this evening was a very quick over view.

For CIP document, go HERE.


Question and Answers:

Questions were asked about the water bank, the CIP – the CIP could replace the Biological Opinions on the fish like it did in the Colorado River Basin, power rates – buying power from the Klamath Falls Co-gen plant was too expensive, Long Lake storage – BOR is now looking at this proposal favorably and is projecting that it will take 3 or 4 more years of study and then more time to get the funding and build it, Chiloquin Dam – money has been budgeted next year to remove the dam, studies are still on-going.





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

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