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KBRA likely to create more 2001-type crises

May 3, 2010 Herald and News Letter to Editor by Edward Bartell, Orovada, Nevada


Having participated in Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement negotiations, I am dismayed by KBRA supporters. They told everybody the agreement would help prevent another 2001 water crisis. No sooner than the ink is dry on KBRA, another 2001 water crisis is happening.

Now the new spin is, if KBRA were fully implemented the water crisis would not be happening. What else can they say? "Oops?"

The reality: If KBRA were to be fully implemented, it would likely be far worse for the Klamath Reclamation Project in a year like this. First: KBRA mandates that signatory irrigators support massive instream claims for water (20.5.2), and implementation of the potentially devastating "total maximum daily loads," which measure pollutants. (20.5.4.B).

There is a so-called block of water in KBRA for Project irrigators, but KBRA makes it abundantly clear the Endangered Species Act trumps this block of water just like it does now (22.5), and furthermore Tribes and environmentalists can still sue to shut down the Project, even those that sign onto KBRA (21.3.1.B.iv.e).

People need to look at what "implementation" of the KBRA Project plan means. In the Wood River Valley, there is about 10,000 acres behind dikes that the Bureau of Reclamation uses for pumped storage. The water behind the dike can be pumped into Upper Klamath Lake to help meet ESA lake levels. When the Project Plan is implemented under KBRA, these dikes are targeted for breaching (18.2.2).

KBRA supporters fail to mention that a bigger container takes more water to fill. This will mean there needs to be a lot more water to meet mandated lake levels. For example to raise the lake level from 4,138 elevation to 4,143 will take an additional 50,000 acre-feet. This is not even counting approximately 40,000 more acre-feet lost to evaporation.

In my opinion, KBRA makes more 2001s probable, not less.

Edward Bartell

Orovada, Nev.

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