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.

Bureau to release Klamath water pulse Friday

Herald and News 2/10/17

Iron Gate Dam on the Klamath River, owned by PacifiCorp...will see increased flows starting Friday to flush out the lower Klamath River.

The Bureau of Reclamation will increase flows below Iron Gate Dam in California to reduce the risk of disease for coho salmon in the Klamath River, according to an agency press release.

Locally, the Link River dam will also be increasing flows starting at noon Friday. Water levels are expected to rise along the Link River down to Keno. The public is advised to use caution around the river banks.

Starting Friday through Monday, flows below Iron Gate Dam will be elevated; increasing from approximately 4,000 cubic feet per second to as much as 9,600 cfs. The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high during this period.

The releases are in response to a federal court order and lawsuit filed by downstream tribes and environmental groups.

‘Flushing flows’

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick ordered Reclamation to implement “winter-spring flushing flows designed to dislodge and flush out polychaete worms that host C. shasta.” The worms are known to have caused large fish kills in the river.

The increased flow is consistent with Judge Orrick’s order and was planned in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley and Klamath tribes, Klamath Project water users, state and other fisheries experts, and PacifiCorp (the hydroelectric dam owners).

“Reclamation is implementing the increased flow at this time to take advantage of the current hydrologic (rain and snow) conditions throughout the Klamath Basin,” the release said. Upper Klamath Lake is about 70 percent full, the Bureau reported.

“Pairing increased flow events with natural high flow hydrologic events maximizes the potential benefits and effectiveness of the event while reducing the amount of water required out of Upper Klamath Lake, which reduces potential for negative impacts to the overall water supply and endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers in Upper Klamath Lake.”

Weighing in

Meanwhile, state Rep. Werner Reschke, R-Klamath Falls, weighed in on the judge’s ruling.

“Today’s ruling brings concern for what harm this will do to farmers and irrigators in the Klamath Basin. Flushing extra water downstream is based on biological science still being determined by agencies. The balance the Endangered Species Act was expected to bring about has been misplaced.

“This decision will be subject to appeal and it highlights the significance of the pending ‘Takings Case,’ currently before the U.S. Federal Court of Claims in Washington D.C.”

“The federal government will be forced to re-consult on the immediate aspect of the 2013 Biological Opinion for the protection of Coho salmon,” Reschke said. “This decision established a very poor precedent for the re-consultation.”

Based on current hydrologic conditions, there is high confidence that water used out of Upper Klamath Lake for these flows will be replenished quickly through inflows that are occurring into the lake, the Bureau press release said.

Flow schedule

Beginning at about noon, flows will begin increasing from about 4,000 cfs to about 9,600 cfs at 9 a.m. Saturday. Flows will remain at this high level for approximately 24 hours. After that, flows will ramp down to about 6,000 cfs during the next 24 hours, where they are anticipated to remain until about 2 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14.

After this approximately three-day event, flows will return to levels calculated in accordance with the 2013 Biological Opinion on operation of the Klamath Project.

“Reclamation recognizes that every acre-foot of water in the Klamath River Basin is extremely valuable and of limited supply, and we are making every effort to optimize the water released for fish health purposes to reduce disease among Klamath River salmonid species while balancing other demands,” said Jeff Nettleton, Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Manager.

Reclamation will continue to work with National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other fisheries experts and Klamath Basin stakeholders to comply with the order and applicable provisions of the Endangered Species Act while upholding contractual obligations to Klamath Project water users.



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Sunday February 19, 2017 06:50 PM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2017, All Rights Reserved