Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
50 Years On The Klamath
by John C. Boyle
Plans for full utilization of
December 1944 the Civil Works Division of the War
Department detailed investigations covering water
and power utilization in the Klamath and
(1) The construction of a high dam on the Sprague
River above Chiloquin that would flood the entire
Sprague River basin and store seasonal runoff to the
amount of 1,200,000 acre feet. This water would be
released through the
(2) All of the Klamath Irrigation would be supplied
(4) An alternative line of diversion would be to
take the water from
(6) The value of Copco No.1 and No.2 as power projects would be totally destroyed. The plan contemplated that Copco would continue to serve all of the areas then served, and that Copco would be reimbursed for its capital loss and furnished with firm power at cost from the Shasta dam, with a reasonable severance damage and assurance of additional capacity if and when needed.
(7) The estimated cost of the project, including losses to be paid Copco and others was $100,000,000.00.
In December 1944 there was an explosion, which shook
both the Upper and
"The proposed diversion, by removing most of their
water supply would practically destroy the value of
the existing power plants at Copco No.1 and Copco
No.2, and any rights that Copco may have for the
construction of other plants on the Klamath. The
right to use the proposed 520 feet of power head
Public hearings were held at
A legislative committee headed by State Senator Randolph Collier made a valuable report summarized as follows:
The California Legislature 56 session passed Senate
Concurrent Resolution No.18 Chapter 21, statutes of
1945 appointing a committee to investigate and
report its findings in connection with the
proposed Klamath and
(1) "The investigations being conducted in regard to
the Klamath River diversions by the Corps of
Engineers, War Department, are untimely and uncalled
for and are not supported by any local interests
And it was recommended that:
(1) "The Bureau of Reclamation should be requested by local residents to investigate water requirements of the entire Klamath River Basin giving full consideration to the irrigation, power, fish, and wildlife, recreational and other beneficial uses for water."
(2) "Investigation by the Corps of Engineers should be discontinued without further unnecessary expenditure of public funds."BUREAU OF RECLAMATION PLAN
In June 1954 the Bureau of Reclamation completed a
preliminary study of the
This study included reports from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Mines, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bonneville Power Administration. It was very complete in reviewing the status of developments which had taken place to date and it outlined a comprehensive plan for utilizing the remaining resources of the basin for the benefit of all interested agencies.
The important changes suggested in the plan were:
(1) To include
(2) To include power development by the Bureau of
Reclamation by diverting
The Bureau of Reclamation changed its plans with
respect to irrigating the
THE COPCO PLANS Canyon Project
Power development in the
On May 9, 1921, application was made to the Federal
Power Commission for permission to investigate a
stretch of river about 10 miles in length lying in
Oregon immediately above the state line, for the
purpose of the ultimate development of about 320,000
KW between Keno and Iron Gate. The Federal Power
Commission issued a permit No.215 on
On May 12, 1921, application was made to the State
Engineer of Oregon to appropriate 1500 second feet
of water for the development of 7.0,000 THP
(theoretical horsepower), application No.7894, on
this same stretch of river. Permit was not issued by
the State Engineer for the reason that the Attorney
General of Oregon had rendered an opinion that those
waters were not subject to appropriation having been
transferred to the
As time passed, engineering studies were completed and the preliminary layout of projects submitted with revised applications to the Federal Power Commission and the State Engineer of Oregon.
The original state filing No.7894 was changed and new filings made as follows:
Canyon Project No. 13603- 28,295 THP
Big Bend No. 13604- 65,455 THP original No.7894
Grant No.2 No. 13605- 36,477 THP
Grant No.3 No. 13606- 17,045 THP
Grant No.4 No. 13607 -34,091 THP
These applications were before the State Engineer for approval and Copco asked that the Canyon Project be approved for construction. The Company had appropriated $4,000,000.00 and had received a preliminary license from the Federal Power Commission. This preliminary license was recalled when the FPC was advised that Copco had not been granted a permit for use of the water from the state.
Legal questions arose as to whether or not the state
"could issue any permits for appropriation of any of
the waters within the
The governor and his staff delayed further action until the act creating the Hydroelectric Commission of Oregon had become effective.
Copco did not transfer its applications on the
The Company then transferred its activities to the
The applications to develop the
In 1890, a dike was built to prevent overflow of
In 1906 and 1907, the Southern Pacific Railroad was
required to install headgates at Ady so flow of
water to and from
In 1919, with the beginning of regulation of the
No particular problem occurred until 1927 when a
large discharge in
The Bureau of Reclamation had in mind enlarging the
A needle dam was completed
In 1924, a year of extremely low water, Copco needed additional water for generation of power at Copco No. 1 power plant.
Arrangements were made with the Bureau to purchase
60,000 acre feet at $.20 per acre foot with the
responsibility on Copco to run it through
The old original channel of
The Langell Valley Irrigation District board in 1926 planned to have the Reclamation Service construct a drain through the valley at an estimated cost of $50,000.00, but were un- able to obtain right of way over the Swingle property. It was suggested that Copco acquire this land, grant the right of way to the district, and in consideration receive from the district a contract permitting future use of the drainage ditch by the company.
This was done. The necessary improvements were made
and Copco obtained the right to pass water over the
diversion dam of the district, through
Copco made no power developments in the
It had however kept up with its load growth by
developing power elsewhere, at:
Prospect 2,3 and 4 on the
4 Diesel plants 1,035 KW
Alturas hydroelectric 450 KW
Toketee - 8 plants on the
(2 under construction)200,000 KW
Total 241,685 KW
Upon completion of the last of the Toketee plants by 1956 other plants needed to be constructed shortly thereafter. In the early '20s Copco system load increased at about 4,000 to 5,000 KW per year. By 1957 this increase jumped to about 10,000 and 15,000 KW per year.
So filings were made on the
The creation of the Hydroelectric Commission of
Oregon in 1931 with amendments of the Legislative
Act made it possible for a power company to obtain a
license similar to a Federal Power Commission
license for use of water in
In 1951, the Klamath community was advised that a
power plant would be built on the
Because of the need to construct larger power developments adequate to meet the system demands, the plans were changed to combine two of the original projects with one of 88,000 KW capacity.
The purpose of applications at this time, perhaps four or five years in advance of need, was to determine what if any legal complications would arise which would delay the development or make it impossible to construct the plant. Based upon the experiences during 1925 to 1930 in Klamath regarding water rights, the outlook was not optimistic.
A plan was submitted covering development of the
remaining undeveloped projects between Keno and
Practically all the irrigation districts in the Klamath Reclamation Project joined in filing protests. The Secretary of Interior filed a protest, as did the Bureau of Reclamation and many individuals.
During the following months some resolutions
favoring the project were filed. The Oregon State
Federation of Labor at convention in
The deadline date for filing protest with the
Federal Power Commission was
On Friday, September 7, 1951, the State
Hydroelectric Commission stated that no further
hearings would be held and it was satisfied that if
Copco could work out an agreement with the
Bureau of Reclamation for an extension of the
contract to regulate the Upper Klamath
Hearings were held
before the Federal Power Commission on June 3 and 4,
In May 1953 Copco completed negotiations with the
Bureau of Reclamation to purchase the output of the
Bureau's new 18,500 KW Greensprings plant on the
system of the Talent Irrigation District (
On August 5, 1955, the draft of a contract between
the Department of Interior and Copco covering
regulation of Upper Klamath Lake, pumping rights for
the Klamath Project, water uses and other associated
provisions were submitted to all interested parties
and comments requested by September 1, 1955. If a
contract was signed, copies were to be filed with
the Federal Power Commission, Hydroelectric
Commission of Oregon and the Public Utility
Commissions of Oregon and
In a meeting in Sacramento September 28, 1955, a letter from Copco to the Oregon and California River Compact Commissions stated in part "that no Klamath water shall be used by Copco when it may be needed or required for use for domestic, municipal, or irrigation purposes within the Upper Klamath River Basin as defined in the compact; Provided nothing shall curtail or interfere with the water rights of Copco having a priority earlier than May 19, 1905; Provided further that all drainage and return flows shall be at a point above Keno."
The new agreement between Copco and the Bureau of Reclamation was completed January 3l, 1956. Work was authorized to start in June 1956 and Copco had obtained the unanimous support originally requested in 1951.
Dam: The dam is located on the
Reservoir: The reservoir capacity is 3,377
acre-feet, 1,397 acre-feet of which will be usable
pondage. The normal water surface elevation is
3,793.0 feet with a normal low water surface of
3,788.0 feet. The reservoir extends upstream for a
distance of approximately 3 miles.
Tunnel: 74.50 feet -steel lined -16-foot diameter.
1,587.72 feet -concrete lined -16-foot
diameter, horseshoe shape.
Waterways: 15.25 feet of concrete intake.
638.41 feet of 14'0" I.D. steel pipe
49.59 feet of 14'0" concrete conduit.
36.00 feet of concrete transition.
6,271.62 feet of two wall concrete flume.
4,489.13 feet of one wall concrete flume.
340.00 feet of concrete forebay.
1,587.72 feet of concrete lined tunnel -16'0" diameter
74.50 feet of steel lined tunnel -16'0" diameter
(to the centerline of the surge tank.)
Total length -2.56 miles.
Penstock: The surge tank at the upper end of
the penstock is 56.0 feet in height and 30 feet
in diameter (I.D.). The twin steel penstocks are
957.68 feet in length (true dimension, centerline of
surge tank to centerline of unit, with inside
diameters varying from 10'6" to 9'0" and plate
thicknesses varying from 3/8" to 15/16".
Head and Diversion. Maximum static head -454 feet.
Normal net effective head -440 feet.
-2,500 cubic feet per second.
Power Plant: The power plant consists of two General Electric vertical generators each 42,100 KVA, 95% power factor, 3 phase, 60 cycle, 11,500 volt, 277 R.P.M. Nameplate rating 79,990 KW. The two Baldwin, Lima, Hamilton Corporation turbines are rated 56,000 H.P. each and are equipped with Pelton Type B Hydraulic governors. Capability is rated at 88,000 KW.
Substation: The power generated at 11.5 KV is
transformed to 230 KV by two General Electric 42,300
KV A, 3 phase transformers which, together with the
associated electrical equipment, are located
adjacent to the power plant.
Transmission: A 230 KV transmission Line
No.59 connects the plant with the Company's existing
Dam: The dam is located on the
Reservoir: To be operated essentially as a re-regulating reservoir. The reservoir capacity is approximately 58,000 acre-feet. The normal operating water surface elevation is 2,328 feet with a normal low water surface elevation of 2,324 feet.
Tunnel: A 16-foot horseshoe shape tunnel, 969.2 feet in length under the right abutment of the dam. Will serve as a sluice and diversion during construction.
Penstock: 12-foot I.D. steel pipe through dam. Length -681.26 feet.
Head and Diversion:
Normal Net Effective Head -154 feet.
Normal Diversion -1,650 cubic feet per second.
Power Plant: One vertical reaction turbine rated at 25,000 H.P., direct connected to an 18,000 KW generator.
Substation: A substation adjacent to the powerhouse will contain a 3-phase transformer capable of stepping up the generator output voltage to 66 KV.
Transmission: A transmission line of standard wood pole construction will connect the sub- station with the applicant's existing transmission system at the Copco No.2 switchyard.
Roads: The reservoir will inundate some of the existing county road and approximately 61/2 miles will be relocated by the company. Upon completion of the project, the new road will be owned and maintained by the county.
Fish Facilities: In conjunction with the
It was built where the iron colored bedrock stood almost vertically 250 feet above the river, and served as a control point.It had iron eyebolts drilled securely in the bedrock to hold log booms, which impounded and released logs from upstream as needed for the sawmill at Klamathon below.
It controlled the one-way county road cut in a bedrock shelf frequently subject to overflow.
It controlled the Klamath Lake Railroad at its five-mile post where a mile of 4% grade had to be built adverse to upstream freight hauling.
It marked the control of water surface fluctuations caused by load changes at Copco No.2 powerhouse, which had affected the river below.
It marked the end of fish migration from the
It marked the time when the States of California and
The Bureau of Reclamation and Copco continued to
make studies relative to the value of additional
storage of water at
Fifty years had passed during this application of
water to about one-half of the 600,000 acres of
agricultural land, which could be eventually
irrigated in the
It also had taken 50 years for the development of
about one-half of the potential hydro- electric
power (320,000 KW) in the
The two, irrigation and power, developed parallel to and complimented each other.
Twenty years have now passed since the joint venture
between the Department of Interior and Copco, which
Those interested in retaining and developing Klamath's greatest natural resource, "Water," should not be complacent. Who knows when somebody with plenty of money and plenty of votes may appropriate part of it and put it to beneficial use outside the basin of its origin? It is still the envy of much of the arid West.
Rededication was held on
efits for residents of the area. It typifies the scope of the vision of John C. Boyle and the contributions he has made to the long-range planning for the full use of the water resources of the basin.
A native of
John C. Boyle's first job was field surveying for the Siskiyou Electric Power & Light Company. It led to his assignment in 1916-1918 as the superintendent of construction of a 135-foot- high dam and the 20,000-kilowatt Copco No.1 powerhouse by a successor company, The California Oregon Power Company, at a site he had located during his first survey work.
The concept of providing for regulation of Upper Klamath Lake and reclamation of marsh lands was made feasible a few years later when he completed the engineering and building of the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls. Together with related channel dredging and diking, the dam has made it possible to greatly expand the basic agricultural economy of the region.
During the decades of the 1920s and 1930s, he
devoted his engineering talents to building the
modern electric power system that has served the
growing area so well. In this period he also
investigated the hydroelectric potential of the
Klamath, Rogue and
Mr. Boyle became the Vice President and General
Manager and Chief Engineer of The California Oregon
Power Company in 1941. Beginning in 1945 he guided
the Company into a decade of record expansions of
its generating capacity. The work centered on the
While completing the
It is very appropriate that a dynamic and useful development such as this hydroelectric project should carry his name in recognition of his outstanding engineering services to the Company and as a testimonial to the qualities of leadership he has given to the task of building the region it serves.
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