Klamath Water Users Association
2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3
Klamath Falls, Oregon 97603
(541)-883-6100 FAX (541)-883-8893
Workshop Held to Discuss 2002 Farm Bill
U.S. Department of Agriculture representatives conducted a workshop in Klamath Falls on June 6th to provide preliminary information on the $50 million Klamath Basin provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill. Over sixty participants listened to a series of speakers discuss cost-share and incentive payment opportunities for soil and water conservation practices available in the 2002 Farm Bill.
"We worked tremendously hard to get the $50 million in funding for the Klamath Basin included in the Farm Bill, and it's important that we make the right decisions about how to spend it", said Congressman Greg Walden, from Washington. "I'm committed to continuing my productive relationship with Congressman Wally Herger and Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden to make sure we spend it in the right way."
Significant funding for the Klamath Basin was contained in the 2002 Farm Bill to pay for long-identified water quality and water quantity improvement projects, including $50 million in direct funding under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Reclamation Issues 2002 Operations Plan
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has released its 2002 Annual Operations Plan for the Klamath Project. This plan describes Project operations from June 1, 2002 to March 31, 2003 based upon current and expected hydrologic conditions. Reclamation - while agreeing to operate the Project this year in conformance with biological opinions (BOs) issued earlier this month - has formally opposed long-term elements of both BOs.
The 2002 Plan provides a water supply for Project purposes while staying within the operations regime observed from water year 1990 through water year 1999, consistent with the findings of the National Research Council's Interim Report of February 2002. The observed values for the lake levels and river flows that occurred during that ten-year period were used to develop operating criteria.
Local Irrigators Oppose U.S. Motion to Dismiss "Takings" Lawsuit
Attorneys representing local irrigators and business interests who filed a lawsuit last October claiming that the federal government unfairly took their water have opposed a motion made by the United States to stay or dismiss the lawsuit. Earlier this week, the Marzulla law firm filed a memorandum in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. on behalf of the plaintiffs.
The government believes the Court should abstain from hearing the case because of the existence of the ongoing Klamath Basin stream water adjudication, which it believes puts local water rights in question. The Marzulla attorneys, however, argue the facts do not support that contention because the adjudication will only establish the relative rights to the use of the water within the Klamath Basin.
Last October, local water users and businesses filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming that the 2001 Klamath Project water cutoff amounted to a "taking" of private property. Government attorneys claim that the water was not the irrigators' property and that the government had a right to take it. If the court decision favors the irrigators' claim, the irrigators could seek compensatory relief of up to $1 billion.
A status conference with the Court was held on April 9th, at which time the Court asked the parties to brief the question of whether this lawsuit should be stayed until the Klamath Basin Stream Water Adjudication is complete. The government's motion for a stay and partial dismissal was filed on May 10th.
Independent Panel Supports Review of Report that Questions Columbia Flows
An independent panel of scientists has given a passing grade to a recent report that questions fish passage strategies on the Columbia River, which represents the second recent instance where a high-profile independent review has cast doubt on the alleged benefits of flow augmentation to the survival of fish. Earlier this year, an interim report released by the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated the lack of scientific data supporting higher lake levels for suckers and increased flows for coho salmon in the Klamath Basin.
The panel review - commissioned by the Northwest Power Council - was prepared by the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB) to address a report that questioned the effectiveness of fish flow management on the mainstem Columbia.
Last January, consultant Al Giorgi released a report that concluded the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has found no "apparent" relationship between flows and survival of salmon and steelhead protected by the Endangered Species Act. Giorgi's report notes recent increases in salmon numbers have resulted more from changes in oceanic conditions rather than management of the fresh water system. The Council commissioned the ISAB review of Giorgi's report after fishery agency managers and environmentalists voiced strong objections to it.
The ISAB's review, released June 4, supports most of Giorgi's conclusions. "Surprisingly few, if any, comprehensive evaluations of flow augmentation have been published, which address all or even most of the significant issues", said the ISAB, paraphrasing Giorgi's findings.
Oregon DEQ Finalizes TMDL Report
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) on May 24th signed the Upper Klamath Lake Drainage Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and quietly submitted it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Local interests who have engaged closely on this controversial issue are surprised and angered by what they see is an abrupt end to the process.
"Not a single scientist or individual working on behalf of Klamath County on the TMDL was told that it was finalized until 10 days after the signing and submission to EPA", said Gail Whitsett, a Poe Valley resident. Whitsett and her husband, Doug, as well as others in the Basin, believe the final TMDL document is highly suspect and have asked for peer-reviews of controversial reports cited in the DEQ document.
tephanie Hallock, ODEQ Director, believes otherwise. "I feel confident that the science and data used in developing the TMDL is well established, peer-reviewed and includes the best available information upon which to base water quality management decisions", said Hallock.
The TMDL document finds water temperature and phosphorus levels in the Upper Basin to be "unacceptable". Local landowners like the Whitsetts believe that both characteristics are inherent within the basin and cannot be corrected by man's efforts.
"As written, this document has the potential to remove all human influence from the Upper Klamath Basin", said Whitsett. "This TMDL will have the effect of impacting not only agriculture and forestry, but the citizenry as well."
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
June 18, 2002 - DEQ Public Hearing. 2:00 p.m. Merrill Civic Center, Merrill, Oregon.
June 19-20, 2002 - Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force Meeting. Yurok Tribal Office, Highway 96, Weitchpec, California.
June 20, 2002 - Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force Meeting. 8:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m., Yurok Tribal Office, Highway 96, Weitchpec, California.
June 21, 2002 - Klamath County Economic Development Association Annual Meeting. 6:00 p.m. Reames Country Club, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
July 8, 2002 - Farm Bill 2002 Briefing. 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Silver Lake Ranger District Main Office, Silver Lake, Oregon.
July 8, 2002 - PacifiCorp Klamath Hydro Relicensing Project Plenary Meeting. 3:30 p.m. To 7:30 p.m. Windmill Inn, Ashland, Oregon.
July 9, 2002 - PacifiCorp Klamath Hydro Relicensing Project Fish Passage Work Group Meeting. 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Windmill Inn.
July 10, 2002 - PacifiCorp Klamath Hydro Relicensing Project Aquatics / Recreation Work Group Meetings. 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Windmill Inn.
Thursday, July 11 PacifiCorp Klamath Hydro Relicensing Project Water Quality / Socioeconomics Work Group Meetings. 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Windmill Inn.