Proponents of the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration
Agreement claimed stakeholders such as PCFFA and Klamath
Riverkeeper, would refrain from suing farmers. However they
are not directly suing Klamath farmers..they are suing the
Water Boards to force the farmers to purify the naturally
nutrient-laden water going into the Klamath River.
The Water board said they are
required by law to quantify water conditions, including how
much pollution is there and how can they change it.
Their goal is to make the
water drinkable and swimable. They want possibly another
wetland before Klamath Project water diverts into the
Klamath River, and the council Samantha Olson said she
particularly liked the idea of an enormous water
purification plant, and making wetlands in Lower Klamath
like they did off-Project.
That's when they board
Jim Ottoman from Klamath
Falls served on the Oregon DEQ/Dept. of Environmental
Quality Water Policy Advisory Board and was a member of the
Oregon State Water Board. He said, "decisions should be made
by those who are affected and not by those in Sacramento or
Salem. I believe better decisions are made locally. In this
watershed you already have cities, counties, state agencies
and federal agencies involved in water quality." He
suggested it would be a more feasible and practical solution
to use the Klamath Basin River Compact for setting Upper
Klamath TMDL's. The board had no response. Ottoman said,
"You are not needed here."
Mallams is President of Klamath Off Project Water Users, and
chairman of the Headwaters Local Advisory Committee which
deals specifically with forming the Klamath Headwaters
Agricultural Water Quality Management Area Plan. He
supported the Tulelake irrigators and explained how, before
the Klamath Project was built, journals describe the
"putrid" water in Klamath Lake. He said the water from our
springs is naturally high phosphorus at it's source, far
exceeding their "allowable limits" and it is unrealistic to
expect farmers and ranchers to make the water pristine, a
condition that did not exist historically. He said the
natural phosphorus promotes algae growth in shallow warm
Klamath Lake, and the algae then produces nitrogen levels
and keeps the Klamath Lake and River water out of compliance
with their rules.
cannot change Mother Nature," said Mallams.
to Mallam's testimony, "Since the development of the Klamath
Reclamation project, and irrigation development in the upper
basin, there is a recorded increase of 30% in flows
downstream (study done by Mark Van Camp, a hydrologist).
Without the project all the water from Lost River would
never reach the Klamath River. Before the project Lost
River ended up in Tulelake and simply evaporated away
Addressing the board's suggestion of
creating more wetlands to filter the water, Mallams said in
the off-Project, "98,000 acres of irrigated land has been
taken out of production. Most has been put into wetlands
and there has been no improvement in water quality in our
This land was acquired by government
agencies and The Nature Conservancy, promising more storage
and better water quality. The wetlands proved to evaporate
2ce the water as irritated ag, and water quality diminished.
demands 30,000 more acre feet of water to be taken from
off-Project irrigators to be put into Klamath Lake.
farmers voiced concern that they were supposed to give input
on how the water board would enforce their regulations, yet
they did not tell the farmers what their science and
regulations are. The board said the University of Calif. was
using models and evaluating science to use in forming
regulations. One Tulelake farmer said he thought the
irrigators should be able to participate in the process and
did not necessarily support the science and models and
decisions coming from the University. He also expressed
dismay that other stakeholders in the KBRA group downriver
were blaming irrigators for poor water quality in the
Klamath River since they are supposed to be friends now with
the irrigators in supporting dam removal and agriculture.
disapproved of being allowed only 60 days public comment in
the busiest part of farm season to evaluate the science,
models and mandates.
board said they "may prescribe requirements, such as
limitations on temperature, toxicity, or pollutant levels."
They can use "prohibitions, cleanup and abatement order,
cease and desist order, time schedule order, investigative
orders, administrative civil liability, certification of
another agency's program, and Clean Water Act section 401
and 313." to enforce their rules.
could have the "polluters," timber harvesters, ranchers and
farmers, fix the water to their standards.
Woodley, Director of the Klamath Soil and Water Conservation
District, said the Oregon Dept of Ag is working on local
plan that works; in Oregon it's a locally led plan. He said
more than $25 million dollars, with cost share with the
irrigators, have been invested in local conservation
projects in Tulelake area.
The State Board and FERC/Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission are considering dam removal and
project decommissioning. They said the Agreement in
Principal, part of the KBRA/Klamath Basin Restoration
Agreement, could implement the TMDL's.
Some people are
uncomfortable having the KBRA closed-door group of
negotiators mandate TMDL's, especially when some of those in
the group are presently suing the California Water Boards to
mandate irrigators to clean the naturally nutrient-laden
We were thanked by the
Water Board staff for our input, and told that they had
never heard some of this information regarding the natural
conditions, and they would not need to make mandates that
don't work. Staff Counsel Samantha Olson said they were
flexible, and if the landowner is doing things right, they
don't have to meet TMDL's.
As a sidenote, on
May 18, 2005, the California State Water Resources Control
Board was the lead agency in the
Strategy to form
the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement: Cal/EPA Environmental
Justice Action Plan .
This is an agenda detailing the strategies and timeline to
be used to take out dams, increase flows, downsize
agriculture, gain funding, and use the "TMDL's" and
"target fish population or catch
numbers, quantifiable habitat
improvement" to achieve their
goal, and get the farmers to
TMDL, by Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong 3/6/09
Klamath Off Project Water Users Tom Mallams, TMDL comments
James R. Ottoman