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Irrigators await Federal court ruling

The wait continues for Basin irrigators and for the Hoopa Valley and Yurok tribes regarding how much water will be released down the Klamath River for the protection of juvenile chinook salmon.

U.S.District Court Judge William H. Orrick asked for more information regarding relief from an injunctions that dictates the amount of water to be flushed down the Klamath to aide fish, rather than used for irrigation.

The injunction, filed on Feb. 8, 2017, requires 50,000 acre feet of water be kept in Upper Klamath Lake for dilution flows to keep C. shasta from infecting the salmon.


Judge Orrick said up to 10 pages of additional information should be submitted to the court by Thursday, April 26.

The local irrigation districts claim that the prevalence of infection of fish are “misleading” and have asked that the court stay the injunction.

The delay is holding up much needed spring water for irrigators in the Basin, as water supply canals low and inactive.

“It’s really unfortunate relative to the timing,” said Scott White, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. “Golly, we we just hoping to have a decision by now, a firm decision, obviously in our favor so that we could get started.

“We were certainly nervous that the judge was just going to come right out and say, ‘no.’ Timing aside, I’m feeling that the judge is paying attention, and that’s good.”

Basin irrigators and representatives of the Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes attended the initial court hearing on April 11, where Judge Orrick stated he would rule as soon as possible.

“We’re committed to get a resolution as soon as possible,” said Paul Simmons, legal counsel for defendants in the case.

In the request for supplemental information, Orrick said he would be inclined to issue an “indictive” ruling to modify the court-ordered injunction if he determines the correct metric was used under the 2013 biological opinion, and that the intervenors information submitted is accurate.

Meanwhile, Ty Kliewer, chair of the Klamath Irrigation District board of directors, expressed some hope at the request for more information, he also echoed concern other irrigators are feeling as well.


“On the (irrigation) district level, we’re still stuck in the same place,” Kliewer said. “We’re going to have to figure out what to do with a sliver of water. That looks like where we’re headed. It appears we’re going to get a very minimal flow from the lake.”

The start date for water delivery by the Bureau of Reclamation to the Klamath Project had been delayed until Monday, but now remains uncertain.

KID will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. on Monday to discuss options the district has this summer.

Herald and News reached out to the Yurok Tribe for comment regarding the case but did not receive a response as of press time.

The motion defendant-intervenors are Klamath Water Users Association, Sunnyside Irrigation District, Tulelake irrigator Ben DuVal, Klamath Drainage District, Klamath Irrigation District, and Pine Grove Irrigation District.



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              Page Updated: Friday April 27, 2018 01:55 AM  Pacific

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