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Klamath Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R.4329)

November 10, 2017 
Press Release

Klamath Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R.4329)

Continuing his efforts address the unique power needs of the Klamath Basin, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) introduced legislation aimed at providing affordable power rates for irrigators in Klamath County.

The Klamath Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2017 will help bring Klamath Project power costs in-line with rates at Bureau of Reclamation Projects in other areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Background: In 2006, two separate affordable-power agreements between private hydropower producers and the Bureau of Reclamation spanning 90 years expired. Since then, many districts in the Basin and individual operators experienced electric rate increases of up to 2,000%.

Achieving Lower Power Rates: The Klamath Infrastructure Improvement Act directs the Department of Interior (DOI) to conduct a study to identify concrete actions to address this rate increase and achieve lower power rates. This may include small hydropower projects where viable, as well as other options DOI deem appropriate following their study. Importantly, this legislation requires DOI to begin implementation of a plan to achieve lower power rates within 180 days of the completion of their study.

Tulelake Irrigation District (TID):

  • This bill would allow TID and the Bureau of Reclamation to enter into agreements similar to other pumping plants within the Klamath Projects, where water pumping costs are shared when there is a federal benefit, such as providing water for wildlife refuges like Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Currently TID bears the entire cost of water pumping.

Water Banking Activities:

  • The benefits of water banking are two-fold. In times of water shortage, Klamath Project water users have a tool to help get through the water-year, and this leaves more water for fish species in the Klamath River and Upper Klamath Lake.
  • Moving or transferring of non-Klamath Project water within the Klamath Project should not create a paperwork burden on the water users or districts that operate the system. Nor should it increase federal workload and costs. This legislation would eliminate an unnecessary permitting process for moving water around the Klamath Project, which will improve efficiency and maintain fiscal responsibility.

Infrastructure Improvements:

  • The C-Flume directly serves water to approximately 23,000 acres in both Oregon and California. The Federal Government has consistently claimed that the C-Flume, which crosses over a highway, is on the verge of catastrophic failure and in need of replacement.

This legislation uses existing federal authorities to designate this important Klamath Project infrastructure safety improvement as an emergency measure, which will help speed up necessary replacement work.

Press Contact: Justin Discigil |202-226-7338|justin.discigil@mail.house.gov



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