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Tulelake Irrigation District held informational public meeting

April 16, 2009, by KBC News, edited by TID

The Tulelake Irrigation District board of directors held a public meeting at the Tulelake Fairgrounds March 31st to discuss when the Bureau of Reclamation would release irrigation water, water ordering rules, and accept questions and comments. Board members are president John Crawford, Jim Havlina, Bill Heiney, Gary Wright, and Sid Staunton. TID Manager Earl Danosky said he hoped water would be released to irrigators by April 10th. More than 80 people attended.

Danosky discussed new rules for ordering water: HERE for information.

This year's snow pack is 98 percent of average, Danosky said, however the Bureau of Reclamation won't allow water to be diverted from the irrigator's storage, Klamath Lake, until the lake rises 3/10th of an foot.  The Bureau has threatened in the past to shut off water to the Klamath Reclamation Project if the lake is a fraction of an inch lower than the biological opinion mandate.

No water was available to pre-irrigate crops except for some in the Tulelake leaseland.

Danosky said they don't want to turn on the California TID wells if they aren't compensated by the Bureau due to the high power cost. On April 15th, California Project irrigators will be charged 80 percent of tariff rate for power, and in 2010 it goes to full tariff.

2003 to 2005, TID paid $37,000 to $43,000 per year for power costs to pump water out of the drains and throughout the Project to reuse the water several times, and uphill from D Plant through Sheepy Ridge to be diverted out of the Tulelake Basin, into Lower Klamath Refuge, which ultimately goes into the Klamath River.

In 2006 TID paid $208,000 for power for drain pumps (this does not include power to pump wells)

In 2007:  $295,000

In 2008:  $431,000

Tulelake was historically in a closed basin; their water had no way to leave the basin except evaporation. This water had no way to reach the Klamath River. Project irrigators previously had a contract for affordable power with the power company and the utility received excess water to produce hydropower on the Klamath River. After 50 years, the Public Utilities Commission denied Project irrigators a continued affordable power rate, so California Klamath Project irrigators must pay full tariff rate next year.

The proposed Restoration Agreement would provide funds to help find an affordable power rate for Project irrigators.

Crawford, leaseland farmer, discussed the "walking wetlands" where the land is flooded a few years, then farmed a few years, benefiting farms and wildlife. He said there is opportunity to store water in the refuges.

Danosky said with the current water unavailability, they can't flood the private walking wetlands.

Crawford gave an update on this year's water bank.

He said if the settlement agreement is approved, irrigators will get a block of water regardless of the river or lake needs.

(KBC NOTE: on April 10th, water was released to the Klamath Project for irrigation.)


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