Mallams' use of water didn't short anyone;
Project irrigators got the water they were told they would get
Reg LeQuieu, Herald and News 10/28/15 The Author Reg LeQuieu is
a long-time Klamath County resident and retired Klamath County
“Less legal water for others.” Totally false.
At times people share their ignorance before researching the
facts. Such has been the case regarding Tom Mallams’ actions
regarding well water use on his property.
Even the Herald and News “View” editorial Sept. 27 began with
the headline, “More illegal water for Tom, less legal water for
This political piece appeared before either Mallams or Sen. Doug
Whitsett were able to present the facts regarding continuing
legal issues when orders were improperly prepared and then
properly appealed. Mallams and Whitsett have now addressed the
first half of that headline; I’m writing this to help people
think in a true way about the assertion that less legal water
was thereby available for others.
I’m reminded of the old saying, “In theory, theory and reality
are the same; in reality, theory and reality are different.” In
this case they are the polar opposites.
Well far from Sycan River
Mallams’ well is over a half mile from the Sycan River and over
two miles from the Sprague River (you might want to read that
again). The assertion is that pumping from his 304 feet deep
well with an artesian flow of 800 gallons per minute with the
head of the well 80 feet (by actual survey) above the rivers
reduces the surface flow of those rivers resulting in less water
for the Klamath Reclamation Project below Upper Klamath Lake.
This is a small irrigation well when typical irrigation wells
produce 1,500 to 3,000 gallon per minute. Further, there is no
way the surface water of the rivers is producing artesian flow
80 feet above the rivers, or conversely, when the well retains
its same artesian pressure when closed, losing no water from its
aquifer, that it is also very unlikely it is contributing water
to the rivers.
At least two further observations need to be made.
First, the Reclamation Project irrigators received all their
promised water. No less “legal” water resulted. Downstream flows
received all their allocated water. No less “legal” water there
In fact, there is no shortage whatsoever that can be traced to
Tom Mallams’ well or any number of other wells in the fringes of
the Sprague River Valley. There was no less legal water for
Second, there is no evidence that using his well somehow reduces
the flow of the rivers. The overreach of the bureaucrats at the
Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) is based solely on
computer modeling and resulting theory — and their desire to
condition “the people” to ever greater government control and
thereby justify their existence and expand their kingdom.
Am I being a little harsh? Maybe; a little. I do know
bureaucrats, I know there is some truth to what I just said, and
I know when I gore one of their sacred oxen they are going to
scream bloody murder. We’ll see if their screaming includes any
definitive science, much less proof.
For instance, government control was greatly expanded compared
to 2014. Last year, 14 wells received shut off orders. Mallams’
well was not one of them.
This year the “taking” was expanded to 39 wells under similar
orders including a city well and a Running Y well.
I remember the city conducted actual well tests and challenged
the assumptions on which OWRD based their modeling. I believe
the city’s expert could not replicate any of OWRD’s numbers,
including any analysis of OWRD’s monitoring wells.
The word “fraudulent” was used to characterize OWRD’s order to
the city by the city’s expert. Were any of the 40,000 users of
city water ever shorted? Bureaucrats are loathe to raise the ire
of that many voters. And the city has the resources to challenge
an order based on faulty research and unwarranted assumptions.
Do you need more evidence that Mallams’ appeal (as well as that
of four other irrigators), and their collective continued use
didn’t result in less legal water for others?
The “B” land irrigators were told in the spring that they would
receive no water this year for their 60,000 acres. Then after
the first cutting of alfalfa in June they were told they would
receive three inches per acre of water delivery, about one
irrigation; then later in June they were told they would receive
another nine inches per acre for a total delivery of one
Then in early August all restrictions on delivery to “B” lands
was lifted. There are two reasons for this: 1) it had become
apparent that the “A” water users could not and would not use
their call for 3.5 acre feet per acre, and 2) another 50,000
acre feet of water was “found.”
In fact, there is water sufficient enough that water was
released to the 22,700 acres of idled land on Oct. 1 so they
could pre-irrigate their parched land in preparation for next
year, and another 7,000 acre feet of water has been delivered to
the wildlife refuges — with more to come.
I don’t share this information as any kind of criticism of the
Bureau of Reclamation; Lord knows its job is extraordinarily
difficult. The point I am making is that more irrigation water
was available and delivered to irrigators below Upper Klamath
Lake than originally allocated — a lot more. Let’s sharpen the
point even more: there was no “less legal water for others” as a
result of Mallams’ appeal of the OWRD orders and his continued
irrigation of his crops — that is, continued pursuit of
Administrative rule issue
The bottom line is that OWRD was tasked by the settlement
agreements to make this connection by creating an administrative
rule that ties surface and ground water together. This new rule
even states that if the settlement agreements are not legislated
and implemented, this specific administrative rule goes away.
One question is why are they creating this rule before Congress
has ratified the settlement agreements? There is no
While Klamath County Assessor, I operated on the basis that
statutes govern us, administrative rules serve us. Did I ever
violate a statute? No. Did I ever bend an administrative rule?
Yes. And I was exonerated both times. And if Mallams wins his
appeal he will be exonerated and the results will be for the
better good of those with wells that have not been demonstrated
to affect the surface flows of distant rivers.
What is really sad is that he has been adjudged guilty before
all the evidence has been submitted and a court of proper
jurisdiction has ruled. Fair-minded people will reject any
recall petition until all the facts are in, courts have ruled,
and appeals exhausted.
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