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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
agricultural interests.
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 biological reasons,²
said Troy Fletcher, executive director of the Yurok Tribe.
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 said.
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 feasible.
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 better solution.
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) solution doesnıt
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 2002.




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