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River flows to increase for fish
The decision not expected to hurt overall lake levels
By SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 2/9/11
Flows will be three times their current cubic feet per second rate, going from 1,600 cfs to 5,000 cfs for six hours, and then decreasing to 1,300 cfs.
The increased flows are not expected to hurt irrigators, who want Upper Klamath Lake full at the beginning of April.
“The lake’s in good shape right now,” said Greg Addington, director of the Klamath Water Users Association. “That’s a lot of water, but I don’t feel like the lake is in jeopardy of not filling because of it.”
Tuesday afternoon the lake was at 4,141.9 feet. It must be at least 4,141.5 feet at the end of the month. But Jason Phillips, area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin office, said he was concerned that a biological opinion requiring high flows from the lake down the Klamath River in the spring could prematurely lower lake levels.
A complaint by PacifiCorp, parent company of Pacific Power, filed in January was the catalyst for the increased flows, according to Kevin Moore, spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin office.
The company said reduced flows could hurt its hydroelectric dam operation. PacifiCorp owns four dams on the Klamath River.
“Once they lodged the complaint, the parties began to work toward its resolution,” Moore said. “Through the work of the (Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement) partners to resolve the complaint, it made the variable flows possible.”
In mid-January, PacifiCorp filed the complaint with the federal government, saying the Bureau didn’t provide adequate notice about reduced flows in the Klamath River as required in Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement. The company ’s four dams produce about 2 percent of Pacific Power’s hydroelectric power.
In January, the Bureau’s Klamath Basin office said flows should remain low — between 1,100 and 1,300 cfs — through February.
Parties involved in the KHSA convened their hydrologists and biologists and worked up variable flows that alleviated PacifiCorp’s complaint and were within the confines of the National Marine Fisheries Service biological opinion, Moore said.
“They’re working together to accomplish the goals contained in the NMFS biological opinion and the need for PacifiCorp to provide power in the most efficient manner,” Moore said.
The biological opinion protects endangered coho salmon in the Klamath River. It allows for increased f low variability — from 1,300 cfs to nearly 5,000 cfs — in February.
In this case, officials say higher flows will flush disease - causing parasites in the fish population below the Iron Gate Dam.
The committee comprises hydrologists and biologists from the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv ice, Bureau of Reclamation, PacifiCorp and tribes.
Moore said the committee is still looking at how long the reduced flows will last.
“They’re still in discussions,” he said. “It’s a continuing effort by that team to determine what’s in the best interest of everyone involved — irrigators, salmon, suckers.”
Page Updated: Friday February 11, 2011 03:13 AM Pacific
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