Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


   HISTORY of the Klamath Project Waterbank

12/29/04  The National Academy of Science final report, today's best available science, the peer review of the biological opinion driving the waterbank, found that lake-level/river-flow management of our water is "unjustified" in protecting 'endangered' sucker fish and coho salmon.  The water shutoff in 2001 "was unjustified".
   The Hardy reports by Dr Hardy took the highest water year in recorded history and created an opinion that says lake levels and river flows must be artificially elevated considerable above what the historical flow was before the Klamath Project was built.  The river often went dry. Environmentalists and government agencies and tribal representatives were at the table. Irrigators and objective scientists were not allowed at the table. There was no peer review. So Interior Secretary Gail Norton engaged the National Academy of Science, NAS,  to review the opinions and the 2002 fish die-off and the 2001 water shut-off.  The NAS concluded that there was plenty of scientific evidence to determine that the mandatory elevated lake levels and mandatory river flows were unjustified.
   Before the NAS final report was finished, the Bureau of Reclamation told Klamath Water Users (KWUA) that they must form a water bank to forgo their water for river flows and lake level for endangered coho and sucker fish. The KWUA committee of over 20 people spent several hours weekly for 50 weeks, hiring consultants and forming a 60-page report. On low water years there would be a water bank and high water years there would be none. With this water bank, irrigators still irrigation would be given assurance of their deeded water supply. They would be paid for their water.
   KWUA did not believe that the water bank was justified, forcing irrigators to provide water demands for the entire watershed all the way to the ocean since the Project only uses 3.5% of the water in the Klamath River, and most of this irrigation water returns to the river. They were led to believe that this was a temporary emergency measure to avoid any more 2001 water shut-offs, temporary until the after-the-fact peer review of the NAS became the best available science.
   In appreciation of the water user's efforts, their water bank proposal was thrown out the door. What the Bureau wanted was a water grab regardless of the best available science (the then-draft NAS report), regardless of water year type--drought or flood, and absolutely with no credit to the irrigators in the form of assurance of water supply.
   The non-peer reviewed opinion of Dr Hardy is still being used to downsize Klamath Basin agriculture, this year by 100,000 acre feet (AF). By the way, Dr Hardy was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Justice to create an opinion to go against the Klamath Project irrigators in the water adjudication process. More on Hardy on SCIENCE PAGE.
   Why would they use an opinion that was not peer reviewed to take our water, a mandatory 100,000AF water bank, from 2005 to eternity, regardless of water year when the NAS said that science is flawed?
   In 2003, being forced to participate in this mandatory water bank of 50,000 AF, mid-summer after millions of dollars worth of crops were planted, the Bureau of Reclamation told the Klamath Farmers that their water was going to be shut off for a week because the lake dropped less than an inch below the Biological Opinion. Fortunately the Department of Interior intervened. Had the Project been shut down mid-summer, the devastation would have been worse than 2001 because all of the fields had been planted.
   Tulelake Irrigation District and private irrigators not contracted by the Bureau for the 2003 water bank were blackmailed, being told that if they did not DONATE thousands of dollars worth of their well water, the Project would be shut down. TID and irrigators pumped their water and were not reimbursed.
   In 2004 the mandate was increased to 75,000AF of water. TID was told by the Bureau that they had to pump the big wells. In 2001 these wells were drilled to keep cover crops alive to keep the topsoil from blowing away and provide 'emergency' water for a few crops in the ground.  TID was told that if they did not sign a contract to pump these wells, then when the lake level drops midsummer they will be forced like in 2003 to pump these wells again with no compensation. On top of this was demanded thousands of AF of water called Tribal Trust water. Tribal Trust is a wild card. Regardless of water year type and regardless of peer-reviewed science, the Klamath Irrigators must provide water when the Tribes say NOW. Above the mandatory water bank.
   The Bureau of Reclamation has not reconsulted on the Biological Opinion or its demands considering the NAS report's contradictory findings, and they haven't even begun this process.
   Ned Gates, Hydro geologist, Oregon Water Resources Department, states and proves by graphs that the 2001 water shut-off and this water bank through 2004 has been depleting our untested aquifer.
2005, 100,000 Acre Feet Water Bank
   Plus Tribal Trust Wants




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2004, All Rights Reserved