Project Tour hosted by the Bureau of
Reclamation for Humboldt University
Cattle and dairies
Bob Davis: In the interest of the schedule and people’s hunger pains, we’re going to get back on the bus and go up the river here just a little ways to a park and have a picnic lunch.
Hartman: But for people other then the people who know this area anyway, you're not going to know the difference. We're going to take you a little bit different way over through my home area. I am Harold Hartman and I am an import to this area. I’ve only been here for 15 years. You have with you some people who represent third and forth generations; you have people who have been here all of there lives. I have not. I have only been here for 15 years, about 12 of which have been involved in water things. I came from a kind of circuitous route to get here to Klamath Falls. I started out, I went all around the world except for Europe, but spent some time in Alaska and spent about eight years back in Nebraska, in Central Nebraska, in a farming operation and some other things. But I started out actually my adult life about 200 miles from here so I kind of ended up back where I am at now. Where that was, was at the mouth of the Eel River in the towns of Eureka and Arcata. When I graduated out of High School I went to Humboldt State.
Cattle and dairies
I might talk about another livestock operation here in the basin and that’s the beef cow/calf operation. During the summertime there may be as many as 130 to 150 thousand head and in the wintertime we don’t know for sure. I have a hundred, but there’s maybe 5000 to 10,000 at the most that over-winter here. The rest come in mostly from the south; they over-winter in the California area. If you’re going up north tomorrow I guess you’ll see a lot from the Sprague River area all the way over to the Fort Klamath area where there’s a lot of cattle. It's summertime there. But you get quite a few of them here in the Poe Valley here, a few in the Malin area, the north part of the Malin area, very few down in the Tulelake area, on the eastside there’s some but not a whole lot.
People irrigate here. The Poe Valley is supplied by the Project from the Lost River thru some canals; we just went by some of the canals. This area is also supplied by wells especially up on the hillsides and stuff, and we’ll go by some other places as we go up over the hill here and drop over into Malin that is supplied by wells. So there’s two real sources here.
I drive this virtually everyday, but there are days you can come by and you can see ten poles in a row where you have bald eagles on each one. Occasionally they’ll let some hawks in and stuff, but mostly it’s the bald eagles and stuff. Springtime a lot of times a hard winter or something when calving starts with the eagles, we’ve had eagles come and take a dead calf just right out of the pasture. There is some contention here that the eagles don’t go very far to eat, but we're 25 miles away from the main roost and I guarantee you they fly that far. They really do, but there’s a lot of them in this general area.
Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) wells/water
We talked some about the water bank. There are 17,000 idle acres in the Project this year, and those idle acres are being paid about 75 dollars per acre foot that they would have used had they’d been in production. At the end of June when we began to realize that there was a problem, that we weren’t going to maintain our lake elevation for suckers, and I have to tell you that in the period of June 25th to the first of July, there was a potential that Upper Klamath Lake was going to drop one inch below that level which was absolutely necessary for sucker survival. Now on July 1st we could drop that lake 5 inches according to the biological opinion. So somebody has to explain to me how the suckers know and why it’s good for them to hold that one inch for five days and then drop the lake 5 inches on the sixth day. That’s the kind of issues that we're trying to struggle through biologically and go away from a stair-step approach with benchmarks and get to some kind of an accelerated curve that allows us the flexibility necessary to operate the Project. It’s going to make more sense for the operation of the Project. But it’s going to make more sense for the resource that we're trying to protect, and that’s just as important as well. In that same time period about June 25th when we realized there was a problem, Tulelake Irrigation was not pumping these wells. They are very expensive. The electricity alone with the preferential power rate is very expensive. There are tremendous amounts of other costs associated with this for the operation and maintenance of the facilities that the water is being pumped into.
We fired up our wells at that time and we ran them until about 2 weeks ago with no compensation whatsoever. The 17,000 acres that were in the water bank got paid 75 dollars an acre foot for the water they saved, the ground that was in ground water replacement by which people denied their surface water usage, and used their ground water to provide irrigation on their own fields, they were paid to the equivalent of 75 dollars an acre foot for the water that they saved. TID alone had a lot of private pumpers that started their wells and started pumping into the facility so that we could do a better job of maintaining the lake elevation that was deemed vital to the suckers, but TID at the 75 dollar an acre foot rate pumped one million dollars worth of water into this system with absolutely no compensation whatsoever. If we are not going to suffer through the third party impact that we suffered through, we’ve got to deal with those third party impacts when we dry up somebody’s domestic well, when we dry up somebody’s irrigation well, we’ve got to be able to deal with those impacts and deal with it in a way that is equitable economically for everybody, and we can’t do that when our neighbors are receiving a subsidy of 75 dollars an acre foot and we're pumping a million dollars worth of water for nothing. That just can’t happen. The same holds true for all those private pumpers who are pumping water out of the goodness of their hearts to maintain lake elevations and to maintain river flows. We have to come up with some way to do that and to deal with third party impacts. To give you an idea of the third party impacts, in 2001 at the end of the season we had four of our wells drilled, and we started pumping on those four wells, and at just about that time that happened in that same time frame, 210 domestic wells right here went dry. We thought goodness, this is a third party impact we may not even be able to deal with. At the same time there was no surface water being delivered to any of the acreage here. Last year we sold some water to the Bureau of Reclamation and, when we fired up the same wells at the same time, no wells went dry. The entirety of those domestic wells were tied to the surface water delivery, not the aquifer that we were pumping the ground water out of. We do have some third party impacts and there are direct ties to about a half a dozen wells that the TID wells interfere with.
I think that perhaps one of the greatest potentials for utilization of the TID wells is to supply refuge water at the time of year that we're not necessarily using those wells for Ag production. We can start about the 15th of September and we can pump some serious volume of water into that refuge if we can work out, first of all, we’ve got to deal with county ground water ordinances that don’t allow the export of ground water from one county to another, and where we co-mingle all this water and it eventually ends up in the Klamath River by the Straits Drain and goes into Del Nord County, we’ve got a little problem there with county ordinances. But I think the permits can be obtained to do as much as that stuff as we wanted to.
Tule Lake historical depth and quantity and
And also later in the day we’ll go past the D Plant tunnel that allowed us to become an opened-ended system verses a closed system. These are still called Sump One A and Sump One B, but they indeed are not sumps anymore because, at the end of the day, we pump the water thru the mountain into Lower Klamath thru the Straits Drain back into the Klamath River, about six miles from where it was originally withdrawn so we don’t have a system like the Kesterson System that you’ve heard so much about in California that is a catch all for all of the evils of nature in agriculture at the end of the day. And our water quality tests show that agricultural activities on these lands do virtually no degradation to the quality of that water at all. It's bad, the water quality is terrible, but it is exactly like it is where it is withdrawn from the A Canal at the fish screen that we saw this morning.
And up here on the left as we approach the Peninsula down here you’ll see the old Japanese interment camp that was in Newell California, and interestingly enough, when those homesteaders came from WWII, part of the homesteading deal was that they got half of a prison barracks and those were put on skids and moved with crawler tractors out to each of these homesteads. There wasn’t a paved road anywhere in this system; actually there were very few roads at all. So people drug half of a barracks building out and a lot of them are still living in modified versions of those today. It’s real interesting in our fairgrounds in Tulelake they’ve moved one of those old barracks buildings from Newell and they’ve recreated it as to how it was from pictures of a Japanese internment when a Japanese family was interned there. Half of it is set up that way and the other half is set up the way that the homesteaders improved upon it to make a living quarters for themselves. If you ever have an opportunity to go to the museum at the Tulelake fairgrounds, it’s a very worthwhile thing. They have got one of the old guard towers set up there and it’s really, really very interesting.
Canal lining, pros and cons
Crawford: You see the top of the liner sticking out. We’re now saving all
that water and there is virtually no loss except through evaporation. At the
same time, as Harold said, we have to be careful about the thought of going thru
and lining 225 miles of these canals that have homesteads and home sites all
around that are dependent on a shallow water domestic well for their water. And
we found out in 2001 when we dried up these canals, many, many, many of those
wells went dry and that can happen again. At the same time as I spoke to you
earlier about the refuge water supply, when we line these canals, if we line
those that are just marginally losing water, what that does is, it will dry the
drainage ditch that follows alongside that canal which is the ultimate supply of
water for the refuge. So if we were to go in and enclose them all or line them
all, we would virtually eliminate a good portion of the water supply that the
refuge enjoys today. Indeed a great many of the refuge acres cannot be reached
through the AD delivery system in Lower Klamath and must be reached by the D
Plant channel that pumps out of Tule Lake. And at the same time we also have a
surface water obligation in Tule Lake because we have endangered suckers there
to that require a set lake elevation.
#12 o Refuge
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