All eyes are on the Upper Klamath - Lake level chart will keep people posted

July 1, 2003

By Dylan Darling

H&N's Staff Writer

Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon

To submit a Letter to the Editor:

After last week's near shut down of the Klamath Reclamation Project, people across the Klamath basin are now focused on the level of Upper Klamath Lake.

To help interested parties keep abreast of the lake level daily, the Herald and News will publish a chart on weekdays showing the previous day's water level, and how the level compares to the target levels needed to protect endangered suckers.

The chart will appear on page 2, beginning today.

Minimum lake levels for each month of the year were established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year. This year's minimum lake levels are based (on) inflow projections that show a below-average water supply.

For July 31, the lake needs to be at 4,140.7 feet above sea level. On August 31 it needs to be at 4,139.6 feet above sea level and on September 30 it needs to be at 4,138.9 feet above sea level.

Falling water levels prompted the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to order a shutdown of the Klamath Project last week. The shutdown order was soon rescinded after an agreement was reached to ensure protection of suckers, but officials remain concerned about low inflows to the lake.

Statistics indicate that on Sunday, more water was lost to evaporation and seepage then came in from streams, rivers, and springs that feed the lake.

While the Bureau must protect endangered suckers, it is also required to maintain flows in the Klamath River to protect coho salmon. River flows, measured at Iron Gate Reservoir in Siskiyou County, rely primarily on releases from Upper Klamath Lake.

Jim Bryant, operations manager for the Bureau's Klamath Basin Area Office, said the chart published in the newspaper will help irrigators, environmentalists, fishermen and other groups.

"It's information to track the performance of the lake," he said.

He said the graph will have a trend line that shows where the lake level needs to be each day to meet the requirements at the end of July.