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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Bureau of Reclamation illegal plans for Klamath Project irrigators 2024, Klamath Irrigation District Executive Director Gene Souza responds to inquiry
posted to KBC 5/4/2024
   With an extremely wet water year, we at KBC asked Klamath Irrigation District/KID Executive Director: "Gene Souza, will this be like a recent year when the Bureau illegally denied us farmers our stored irrigation water, bribed us $$$$$$$ to commit to fallowing our fields, then said if a district sued the Bureau, they would deny all the farmers in all the districts their promised fallow payment. ???? Is that what's happening this year again?"

Gene SouzaGene Souza replied: (followed by KWUA newsletter regarding the Bureau's mismanagement of Klamath irrigators' stored irrigation water
"The language in the Reclamation contracts for the Drought Response Agency is very similar to the conditions that resulted in conflict in 2022. The language in Reclamation's Interim Operations Plan is unchanged from the conditions that created conflict in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and now in 2024. This condition deteriorates from the 2002-2017 era. This condition is not in line with the Klamath Adjudication published in 2013 and the amended final order issued in 2014.
So frankly, yes.
Reclamation does not have the discretion to release stored water for other than irrigation purposes between the months of March through October (they CAN and do have release all live flow...except for the fact that the Klamath Tribes Klamath Adjudication water rights require specified lake levels). So releasing stored water, for live flow, without an irrigation water order between March and October is in violation of the Klamath Adjudication final order. The Oregon Courts stated this should stop; however, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned that decision. The Northern District of California court has said the ESA is more powerful than the Constitutional rights of Americans. This case is still pending appeal in the Ninth Circuit court this summer.
Yes, Reclamation again signaling they intend to deny farmers access to stored water (real property) between the elevation of 4,136 and projected 4,139.5 (USBR datum) in 2024.
Yes, Reclamation has indicated it will make $8.5 million or so available for a demand reduction program in 2024. This is approximately $4-6 Million short of being able to pay mortgages, weed control, equipment loans, seed loss, etc given the amount of water Reclamation has stated they intend to release to farmers this year.
230,000 acre-feet of water for farmers in 2024 is:
At least 37,000 acre-feet less than what would have naturally evaporated off of Lower Klamath Lake this year...
90,000 acre-feet less than the anticipated 2024 agricultural demand
120,000 acre-feet less than the anticipated 2024 agricultural and refuge demand.
320,000 acre-feet less than the adjudicated water right.
Enough to create conflict between water-right holders.
Enough to sustain conflict between water-right holders and groups without a water right
Enough to sustain my anger, distrust, and frustration with....a list of groups and individuals connected to Bob Anderson."

KWUA pushes improvement in Disappointing announcement on the 2024 irrigation deliveries

Klamath Water Users Association / KWUA April 2024 WaterWorks Newsletter,
sent by Klamath Irrigation District

On April 15, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) issued a 2024 Klamath Project Operations Plan that provides 230,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River for irrigation in 2024. This amounts to 35% of the projected net inflow to Upper Klamath Lake during the 2024 water year.

In a press release that same day, KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons expressed frustration: “This winter, we have watched water be released to flush sediment in the Klamath River to mitigate impacts of dam removal. We have bent over backwards to put water on our national wildlife refuges. Within a few weeks, Upper Klamath Lake will be completely full for the first time in seven years, and the snowpack is in good shape for this time of year. Yet we are looking at the fifth worst allocation in the 120 years since the Klamath Project was authorized.”

Regardless of these concerns, KWUA and member district managers continue to engage in constructive dialogue directed toward improving the outlook. “There is more water available that we should be able to access,” said KWUA Water Policy Director Moss Driscoll. “We are talking that through with tribes and agencies, constructively, carefully, and deliberately, but with a sense of urgency.” This year, downstream dam removal activities dictate the maximum amounts of water that can be released to the Klamath River without compromising removal activities or public safety.

KWUA hopes that there may be an improved water announcement soon, with a prospect of doing still better than the still-conservative quantity that we may see. But farmers and ranchers, and their bankers, need to know what they have to work with.


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