Valley in Oregon
may hold Klamath Solution
Winter excess could be stored, pumped to river
By Matthew Crawford
Triplicate staff writer September 3, 2004
A narrow, enclosed valley could hold the answer to
some of the Klamath
Riverıs water woes, according to an Oregon
politician who represents
John Elliott, a commissioner in Klamath County,
Ore., believes excess water
that flows into Klamath Lake in the winter can be
pumped into a natural bowl
known as Long Lake.
The area, which lies southwest of Klamath Lake, has
the potential to store
350,000 to 500,000 acre feet of water that could be
pumped into the Klamath
River in emergency situations, such as the threat of
a fish kill, Elliott
Del Norte County supervisors, Klamath Tribes and
Siskiyou County supervisors
are among the proposalıs supporters.
The Yurok Tribe has not given its endorsement.
³We want to be extremely careful for ecological and
said Troy Fletcher, executive director of the Yurok
³Weıre going to take a serious look at it.²
Jim Kerns, founder of J.W. Kerns Irrigation, came up
with the idea 40 years
ago, according to Elliott.
³He saw the only viable way for sustainable
agriculture and all the other
demands on the lake is to increase storage,² Elliott
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation did a study of the
proposal in the mid-1980s,
but its findings were inconclusive and suggested
more examination into the
project, according to Elliott.
³Basically all weıre doing at this point is getting
all of the studies out
of the way,² he said.
Elliott said he is hoping to convince the federal
government to fund the
necessary studies to determine if the project is
³For 40 years weıve had it around, itıs time to do
something or move on,² he
Elliott echoed the sentiment of ³analysis paralysis²
that was expressed by
some attendees at a meeting this week in Eureka
regarding the Klamath River.
Fletcher said he is cautious about rushing into new
projects that appear to
easily solve the complex issue of water rights on
the Klamath basin.
³People are really desperate for a magic solution to
the issues at the upper
basin,² he said.
Fletcher said agricultural policy change would be a
³The real solution to the basin problem in that area
is to reduce land on a
limited source of water,² he said. ³This (Long Lake)
necessarily mean more supply.²
He also expressed doubts about the amount of water
that would become
available for storage during the winter months.
³Iım not sure if thereıs that much high winter flow
coming out of the lake
to support that kind of project,² he said.
Elliott will make a presentation on the Long Lake
project to the Humboldt
County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning.
The question of how much water should be allotted to
farmers on the upper
Klamath basin and how much water should stay in the
river to sustain
fisheries has fueled political debate for years.
The California Department of Fish and Game
attributes low water flow and
high water temperature as the cause of a fish kill
that decimated at least
34,000 salmon during the summer of 2002.
Scientist who monitor the river have found a number
of diseased juvenile
salmon on the river this year and have expressed
concern about another adult
fish kill occurring because of similar conditions to