NAS in Klamath Falls
by KBC 1/30/07
(corrections of the original article are in red)
KLAMATH FALLS - The third public meeting of the Committee on Hydrology, Ecology, and Fishes of the Klamath River Basin met in Klamath Falls January 29th at the Shilo Inn. Nearly 80 community members attended.
This multidisciplinary committee was established to evaluate new scientific information that has become available since the NRC 2004 report was issued on Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin. Information to be evaluated includes two new reports on (1) the hydrology of the Klamath Basin and (2) habitat needs for anadromous fish in the Klamath River, including coho salmon. The committee will identify additional information needed to better understand the basin ecosystem. They will consider water quality and flow volumes and seasonal flow patterns.
2 Review and evaluate the implications of those studies' conclusions within the historical and current hydrology of the upper basin; for the biology of the listed species; sand separately for other anadromous fishes.
3. Identify gaps in the knowledge and in the available scientific information
Will Graf, Committee Chair, introduced the Committee and presenters.
If you wish to send them information regarding the above items of study, send to:
Speakers made presentations regarding TMDL's (water quality), Virtual Tour of the Klamath River Basin, Forest Management, groundwater, Conservation Implementation Program, climate change, as well as informational speeches regarding evaporation, the Klamath Reef, and basic Klamath Project plumbing as it applies to the Bureau's undepleted flow study.
He said that the leaselands have the strongest protective laws regarding chemicals, and many of the fields are certified organic. The water quality coming from these fields is good and sometimes better than Klamath Lake water.
Water quality issues by Dan Turner, DEQ Klamath Basin TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) ODEQ, and Matt St. John, Lead of TMDL Unit, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Rosa, CA.
Turner explained how the Clean Water Act triggered TMDL's, which make regulations regarding dissolved oxygen, temperature, organic enrichment, nutrients and PH or other water quality limiting parameters. Lawsuits by environmental groups have escalated demands for water quality standards and regulations to control those working on the land. They will review the data, find sources of impairments, develop targets, then use models to create regulations.
St. John cited many mainstem and tributary problems and concluded agriculture caused them.
Cindy Williams from the Bureau of Reclamation showed a video virtual tour of Klamath River up to the Klamath Project.
Brian Staab, hydrologist for the Fremont and Winema National Forests, presented 'Forest management practices and effects on water quantity and quality.
He said 50% of land in Klamath Basin is managed by the Forest Service, and 50% of that land generates 70% of the runoff.
He elaborated on the damage caused by historic practices of clear cutting timber. He said road construction and fire suppression harmed vegetative conditions, and applauded the 1990 Endangered Species Act mandates over the spotted owl and praised the forthcoming "ecosystem management and conservation." He said there is more water flows after fires.
Staab said only 15-20% of previous timber harvests currently take place. He concluded that forest management damage was moderate compared to damage from mining.
Groundwater pumping effects water levels. The water table in some areas has declined 15-20' since pumping began between 2001-2004, and it continues to decline. Gannett said pumping effects are localized and easily observed. They effect streamflow; the effects are real but not easily measured.
He said research is focusing on quantifying response to ground water system to new sets of conditions like increased pumping. they are making a computer model to calculate effects of response to ground water stresses. http://oregon.usgs.gov/klamathgw has related information.
The estimated pumping in 2000 was 150,000 AF. With the federally mandated waterbank, pumping increased to approximately 225,000 AF by 2004. Gannet said that some groundwater levels recharge annually, however some take several years to recharge.
A December meeting was planned to form committees and get the CIP off the ground, however it was postponed because of the FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) settlement meetings. Water users, tribes and environmentalists are among the 28 parties at the negotiation table discussing dam removal, water for agriculture, river flows, endangered species and other issues related to the Klamath River and water. Now the Department of the Interior would like CIP to implement terms of the settlement.
The settlement talks are not being disclosed to the public.
Thomas Perry, hydrologist, Technical Service Center, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO, talked about climate change impacts on the Klamath Basin. He said that precipitation has declined in the winters and increased in the summers, and the temperature is rising every century.
Klamath Irrigation District Manager Dave Solem explained Project routing of the 1912 diversion channel, KID's canals, and the amount of water going into Klamath River through the slough. He said before diking of the Klamath River in 1890 to prevent water from going into the Lost River Slough, this slough was a major sink for water leaving the Klamath River system and going to Tule Lake where it evaporated in the closed Tule Lake basin.
Bob Gasser, Klamath Water User Association board member and local businessman, told the committee that there were no outlets from the lakes historically into the Klamath River. He was sorry the committee could not take a tour of the Klamath Project and see the farmland, huge refuges, wildlife, and the diversion channel which funnels runoff water from the Project into refuges and the Klamath River. He explained that the Project is 92% efficient.
Gasser said we want to help solve the Klamath problems. And after the NRC report comes out he hopes there will be a way to implement the findings since the last report and findings were totally ignored.
Dr. Ken Rykbost, retired Oregon State University Professor, has studied evapotransporation and consumptive use. He said that pre-project loss was greatly underestimated. He said in his 20 years of research in the basin he has confidence that the BOR's AgriMet system, which predicts crop water use based on meteorological observations at local weather stations in the network, provides accurate estimates of crop water use. Given that program, he can't understand how the flow study could come up with an estimate of evapotranspiration from 55,000 acres of permanently flooded wetlands adjacent to Upper Klamath Lake of 1.0 AF/acre.
Project irrigator and KWUA board member Bob Flowers presented photos of large boats on Lower Klamath. He brought up concerns that were not addressed in the Bureau's Natural Flow Study.
Petey Brucker from Shasta Valley, co-founder of Klamath Forest Alliance, and past member of Klamath Fisheries Task Force Technical Working Group, said he'd like to see species relationships to flows and stock identification. He is interested in whether larger trees create greater flows.
The NRC Committee meeting ended, and there will be no tour by the committee of the Klamath Project.
We have asked some of the speakers for their presentations to share with our readers.
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