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KWUA’s Annual Meeting Hosts Record Crowd; Given Disappointing News

Moss Driscoll, KWUA, all photos by Chelsea Shearer

This year marking the organization’s 70th anniversary, Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) had a record attendance for its annual meeting. Attendees heard from U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa, as well as Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot and Modoc County Supervisor Geri Byrne.

The Lost River FFA provided the catering for the event, thanks to the support of local sponsors, with guests praising the food.

The big news during the meeting was the announcement from the Bureau of Reclamation that the water supply from Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River this year will be initially set at 215,000 acre-feet. Jeff Payne, Deputy Regional Director for the California-Great Basin Region delivered the news on behalf of Reclamation. “We are monitoring hydrologic conditions and update the allocation accordingly,” Payne said, reading from a prepared statement.

“Yet again KWUA is very disappointed in Reclamation’s decision”, Tracey Liskey, president of KWUA board of directors, said in a press release issued following the announcement. “In a year that is in the top ten percent in terms of snowpack, with over 180 percent of average currently, when Reclamation expects to release more than 590,000 acre-feet of water to the Pacific Ocean, we have 60,000 of acres farmland along with two national wildlife that are liable to go dry this year.” For comparison, Upper Klamath Lake stores less than 460,000 acre-feet, meaning that the entire lake will be emptied this year to produce temporary river flows.

Representative LaMalfa spoke to the dysfunction with the way water in the Klamath Basin is currently being managed in his comments to the crowd. “It makes me frustrated the lack of action by the federal agencies – we are losing our agricultural base. We have to focus on what we need – production. Production of food for our nation.”

Marc Staunton also spoke briefly on behalf of the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (DRA), which has administered demand management programs in the Klamath Project on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation since 2018. Staunton indicated that Reclamation

recently notified the DRA that there is just under $10 million in federal appropriations available this year, which were expressly directed by Congress, thanks KWUA’s assistance. “I almost did not come tonight,” Staunton, who ended meetings early in Eugene so that he could attend the meeting, told the audience.

“I thought in a year with more than 180 percent of snowpack, the DRA would not need to run a program this year,” Staunton remarked, prompting a round of applause and cheers from the audience. Unfortunately, I guess I was wrong.

Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot remarked on the county’s long recognition of the importance of irrigated agriculture. “Our communities were developed and built around the Klamath Project,” he noted. DeGroot then addressed the concern shared by all three counties in the Klamath Project with the current approach to federal spending in the Klamath Basin. “It used to be we had a plan but lacked money and support. Now we have the money and support, but no plan,” he said. “Why are federal agencies still spending all this money as fast as they can? Jeff Boyd, vice president of KWUA’s board of directors, concluded the program, thanking the audience for coming and referring to the organization’s desire for broader, more durable solutions. “We are willing and want to work with people – not certain people, but all people. And we want to save species – not selective species, but all species. We want to make that clear. We’re moving forward on real solutions.”

KWUA is a non-profit organization that represents farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project. The organization’s mission is to preserve and enhance the viability of irrigated agriculture for current and future generations of farmers in the Klamath Project.

The Klamath Project generates half a billion dollars in regional economic activity and food grown in the Klamath Project can be found in nearly every grocery store and restaurant in the nation.

Deputy Regional Director for the CGB of Reclamation Jeff Payne

CA. U.S Rep. Doug LaMalfa Modoc County Supervisor Geri Byrne KWUA Vice President Jeff Boyd

KPDRA President Marc Staunton KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons KWUA President Tracey Liskey

KWUA Water Policy Director Moss Driscoll



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