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 Impacts of the two biological opinions for suckers and for salmon, and how that has changed the parameters of Project operations over the last 10 years, by John Crawford, Project and leaseland farmer.
At the Fish Screen on A Canal
John Crawford, Tulelake and lease land farmer: Iíve been asked by Dan Keppen to kind of take over as your defacto tour guide today. One of the things that Dan wanted me to discuss with you was the impacts of the two biological opinions for suckers and for salmon, and how that has changed the parameters of Project operations over the last 10 years. We have a biological opinion provided by the US Fish and Wildlife in 1992 to guide Klamath Project operations as to lake levels for sucker fish and that came at a time when the lowest inflows into the Klamath River system since Link River dam had been built were reported in 1992. We turned around, we had a wet year in 93, and then we came right back with another of the driest years in history in 94, and all of the resources including basin agriculture and the refuges took a hit in those two years.

There just was no denying it. At the same time it seemed that, based on the 1992 biological opinion, the Bureau of Reclamation had enough flexibility to operate through those years and to see to it that no one resource took a bigger hit then what was absolutely necessary. Thatís not to minimize the effects that took place anyplace in the system.

With the listing of the coho and another entire segment of politics being involved, which was the Department of Commerce, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the product of that was this: after the '92 opinion, the bureau was able to supply a block of water to Project irrigation because of the flexibility in lake levels that were provided in that '92 opinion. After the coho were listed, Klamath Project operations were changed to accommodate lake levels for suckers, Tribal Trust responsibilities for suckers and for other resources held by the Klamath Tribe, tribal trust responsibilities downstream for indigenous fish in the Klamath River, and NMFS biological opinion that had a flow requirement. At that point in time the Klamath Project irrigator, after the NRCS comes up with a projection of inflow to Upper Klamath Lake from April thru September, and then you apply that to the lake levels and the river flows, Klamath Project Irrigation gets what is left. That is when the trouble started, because that number can be from 0 to a whole, whole bunch of water, more then the Project could ever use in their wildest dreams. And thatís how we operated the Project ever since.  Thatís how weíve had the train wrecks that we have had, and somehow we have got to make sense of river flows. We have got to use the best science available.  Weíve got to combine those with the best available science for suckers.  Then we have to determine to what degree the Klamath Project and their flows are responsible for providing those answers.

In the recent past the Klamath Project has been 100% responsible for all of those things. And we know that that is just not right. There is a tremendous amount of irrigation and water use above the lake that is unaccounted for. There is a tremendous amount of water use in the tributaries, in Scott, in the Shasta, the Salmon River downstream. The primary activity that is looked upon is the Klamath Project because it is a federal project, but we seem to be willing for the most part to overlook the Trinity Project which is years and years junior to the Klamath Project and diverts our water certainly out basin into the Central Valley of California. So what we have to do is make some biological sense of all these things, and then determine the degree to which Klamath Project is responsible for providing answers and that has to be written into the Klamath Project Operations Plan long-term, and somehow weíve got to get back to having some flexibility there so the Project is able to operate.

And you hear a lot of talk about certainty.  I think we as Project irrigators understand full well there will never be absolute certainty in our lives again. But, not having any idea whether we're going to get to irrigate with one drop next year, and as we found out this year, even next month, I think is something that, weíve got to get past that, and if getting past that we're also going to be able to do something to provide a more sound water supply for the refuges. Because as questionable as our deliveries are, that is magnified on the refuges, and I think you heard a lot this morning. I apologize for not being in the room, about the Kuchal Act and about what it means to the refuge water supply, and about Project efficiency, and what they mean in the form of re-use to refuge water supply.

The Kuchal Act had a lot of agricultural support in 1964, but not from the Klamath Project. There was no support whatsoever from agriculture in the Klamath Basin for the Kuchal Act, the reason being was that those lands were all destined to be homesteaded, and to become part of the private land in the Bureau of Reclamation that was the foundation for the Project. There was agricultural support for the Kuchal Act. It came from the rice farmers in the Central Valley, a very strong political lobby, a very wealthy political lobby, who felt that they had to hold waterfowl in the Klamath Basin until they had an opportunity to harvest their rice crops in the Central Valley. So when you hear that the Kuchal Act had strong agricultural support, it's certainly true.  It is not true as it pertains to Klamath Basin agriculture.

Youíve heard a lot about Project efficiency, up to 93%. You know CH2M Hill did the first big Bureau study and they decided that we were 90% efficient and nobody believed that, so they redid it again and spent another half million dollars confirming, and the second study came out at 93% efficient. What you probably donít really understand is that there are certainly important beneficiaries to our inefficiency. That 7% that we are inefficient is what supplies the refuge with its water supply. So if one of the answers to water shortages year after year within the Klamath Basin is to increase that 90% efficiency level that the Project operates at, thereís going to be an innocent victim to that increase in the percentage of efficiency that the Project enjoys, and that is going to be the refuge system. Put Klamath Irrigation District at the head of the line, when they tighten their belts, the first people to feel it are Tulelake Irrigation District because we rely a great deal on their return flows for our irrigation. When those return flows donít materialize, we divert more water out of Upper Klamath Lake through the Lost River Diversion Channel that Bob described to you. When we tighten our belts in Tulelake Irrigation District, the eventual result of that is, we have 13 pumping stations that pump our drainage water into the refuge system directly, and when we tighten our belts, all it does is decrease the amount of water that we pump directly into the refuge. So I think thatís something you always needs to think about when you hear, 'if the Project would just become more efficient'. If the Project would become more efficient, then we would have more water available for endangered species in Upper Klamath Lake and down the river. The truth is, if we become more efficient we will impact the endangered species in Tule Lake that are the same as those in the (Klamath) lake, and the refuge will eventually receive a very lessened supply of water.

QUESTION: The NRCS is doing a 50 millionÖ(couldn't make this out above the bus noise)

Crawford: But more on farm then anything else. And the only thing that is counter-productive to that Bill is the fact that our power rate is running out, and weíve got millions and millions of dollars worth of sprinkler equipment out there that right now is being used and a lot of this Equip money is being used to upgrade and improve those sprinkler systems. If we donít get a power rate that is competitive with other sources of power, diesel or propane or something like that, we are going as Project irrigators to be forced to go back to flood irrigation and that is going to be exactly working in opposition to the 50 million dollars in Equip money that are improving our systems for their efficiency on farms. To me thatís the biggest interplay there is between the power rate and what we're doing with the 50 million dollars in Equip money.  We're saving water. And I think we're saving it in the right places that have lesser impact. I know that at TID our canal lining projects and things are designed to where we have ultimate loss of that water instead of having it run from a canal thatís inefficient into a drain ditch and right into the refuge; we're not focusing on those areas.  We're focusing on areas where it comes out of the canal and is lost to the system.

At the Fish Screen on A Canal

Chuck Korson, BOR biologist:

Reclamation completed the new A-Canal fish screen in April 2003. It was constructed to meet a Biological Opinion requirement to reduce the high entrainment of endangered suckers and native fish at this diversion, the largest on Upper Klamath Lake. It consists of a new trash rack with an automated grab rake to prevent debris from blocking water flow into the diversion, vertical panel screens with 3/32" mesh and automated cleaning brushes to keep algae from plugging the mesh openings, a ramp flume leading into a 36-inch bypass pipe which then cycles fish into the fish friendly pump station over here.

The pump then lifts the fish into an underground bypass pipe which empties into our fish evaluation station. This is where biologist's monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the facility. Fish then are bypassed into an approximately 300 foot underwater section of pipe where they are discharged on the west shore of Upper Klamath Lake at about a 6-foot water depth. This is considered the primary pump bypass system.

Because of issues regarding water quality and other factors that effects fish survival and condition in Upper Klamath Lake, there was a decision in the planning stages to also provide a secondary gravity bypass system as well. This is an optional system to allow fish to instead be gravity bypassed down a 3,000 foot 36" buried pipe which travels along the west shore of the Upper Klamath Lake and discharges into the Link River immediately below Link River Dam. This serves as a back up system that can be used should it become undesirable to send fish through the primary bypass route. That is an overview of the facility. You're welcome to walk around.  I can answer any questions that you have about the details of our fish monitoring program if you would like.

Senator Wyden's representative
QUESTION: So how many fish are we talking about. How many? Do you see one hundred a day in that building or ten thousand?
Tour visitors at A Canal fish screen

Korson: Well this has been our first summer of monitoring and we consider this to be our initial pilot sampling phase to test different gear, sampling protocols, and collection techniques. We're not out there full time. We've been sampling only about once a week initially, so the data we have are not representative of the species composition and density of fish coming through the system. For example, when we sample with our fyke in the fish station for 5 to 10 minutes, we have been catching hundreds to thousands of fish in our fish collection box in a very short period of time. These are typically 30 millimeter or larger fish that are bypassed or kept out of the diversion canal. We also have conducted some preliminary tests to see if the screen may be effective in reducing the entrainment of small larval fish which are less than 20 mm in size and which, theoretically, can pass through the screens mesh openings. In this case, we are sampling behind the screen to determine our capture rate of larval fish and will compare it to the larval fish catch in the fish evaluation station.

#9   o   Dr. Ken Rykbost discusses Klamath River hydrology.

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