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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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 Questions regarding Klamath River Dams by a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts
University.  "I am doing research on the dam issue along the Klamath, in particular, the current state of the negotiations and the interests of the parties involved"

10/23/05

1)Are the irrigators involved in the dam relicensing negotiations or just the larger water rights negotiations?

Yes, Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) representatives are at the table with the PUC's and FERC.

2)What is the position of the irrigators on the larger water use issue and on the dam relicensing?  Are they unanimous positions or are there different factions within the group?

Irrigators here realize that this used to be a very large lake. Most of this lake had no way to reach the Klamath River. Sometimes water flowed both ways, into and out of the basin, but not all of the water. Tule Lake was a closed basin. Irrigators, generations of irrigators, realize that the Link River frequently dried up before the Klamath Project was built. When the Project was constructed, and paid for by the irrigators to reroute the water for irrigation, refuges, and power, it raised the lake level and river flows, creating a regulated water supply for the power companies. Our farms and ranches and refuges feed 489 species of wildlife.
Farmers eat food, and farmers use electricity, so they believed that this free water, diverted INTO the Klamath River for power, is a good thing. That is why irrigators are at the table in the FERC relicensing. We still divert free water INTO the Klamath River, power consumers get low rates because of that free water, and reasonable rates were promised to the irrigators because of the diverted water into the river. Go to POWER PAGE for more info on the Klamath Compact.
 
Are we unanimous? No. There are a few people with interests in selling their land or water and making a buck like there are in any community. But I'd say 95% of the irrigators believe that, since this was a lake, 40' deep in places, and now most of it has been diverted into the river for power and new fish demands (higher water levels/flows than pre-project) and more water was evaporated pre-project than irrigators use now, farmers and ranchers feel entitled to water on their farms and local refuges. And they feel like America can use all the clean power it can get so the dams are a good thing.
 

3)What groups are represented by the irrigators and who is the group/persons doing the ultimate negotiations?
 
I answered that earlier...KWUA has consultants and representatives at the table as well as off-project irrigators. These are closed meetings and the representatives are not allowed to divulge the negotiations to the public or their constituents.

4)How and where are the negotiations taking place? 
 
Various places.

5)Who will make the ultimate decisions regarding what agreements are enacted? 
Department of Interior?
 
 Not sure...will need to ask that one.

6)Is there a solution to the water use issue or dam relicensing issue that can satisfy all parties?

I don't think so.  There are some groups who want this entire area to be a wilderness area. They want no farming. No dams. No civilization. No clean power production. No flood control. There are coalitions of environmental groups that feel this way, and we are currently targeted by them. This is not 'conspiracy'. It's in black and white and on the web.
 
 With the millions of dollars being spent on 'studies', it seems that fish ladders would be only fair.
 
Chiloquin Dam blocks more than 95% of sucker habitat. The National Research Counsel (NRC) advised for that to come out many years ago, but the US Government has only spent millions more dollars 'studying' it. Meanwhile, irrigators are forced to keep their irrigation water storage at record-high levels, contrary to NRC peer review, and retire more farmland in the Upper Basin in the guise of helping suckers when they won't take the Chiloquin Dam out. It does not produce power.
 
I will put this dialog on KBC for other students and people to weigh in.
KBC
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