|Users want credit - and water -
for blood, blisters
(Note from Barb H: Please read the file containing "Important Data From The Klamath Water Users Association's Report," immediately below the article. This is a nine page document listing the most important points from the original 44-page report. None of the references or tables are included.)
February 9, 2003
By Dylan Darling
541-885-4471 or 800-275-0982
Herald and News
P.O. Box 788
Klamath Falls, Oregon 97601-0320
To submit a Letter to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Klamath water users don't think they've gotten the credit they deserve for the projects they've done to improve the environment in the Klamath Basin, or that many outside the Basin even know of these projects.
So they're telling all about the projects in a Klamath Water Users Association report being given to federal agencies, members of Congress, and local, state and national interest groups. Dan Keppen, executive director of the association, is the reports author.
The 44-page report tells of environmental restoration and water conservation efforts undertaken by water users,
"Everyone here knows that the farmers have done more to help the suckers then anybody else - and we want to be recognized for that," he said.
Though Keppen said some of the projects are small, they add up.
Keppen said the farmers' on-the-ground projects should earn the irrigators more recognition.
"On-the-ground" projects are ones that get dirt under your fingernails, as opposed to reports, studies and lawsuits that often irritate irrigators.
Such projects include installing streamside fences, improving water quality and clearing fish passages.
Some of the projects Keppen wants the water users to get credit for include the following:
˘ Sucker recovery efforts. The association has published two plans outlining recovery projects in the last 10 years.
˘ Screening the A Canal. Though the project is being completed by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Klamath Irrigation District has supported it since the early 1990s.
˘ Collaborative efforts between the irrigation districts, state wildlife agencies and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, including riparian pasture management, waterfowl nesting sites, and the creation of private wildlife refuges
The goal of the report is to let legislators and federal officials know what Basin irrigators have been doing to help the environment, Keppen said.
"I think the perception is we have our heads in the sand waiting for the Bush administration to bail us out," he said.
By demonstrating what the water users have done, Keppen wants to earn them some credit.
And by credit, he doesn't mean a pat on the back.
He means water.
Most of the projects need water to work. As part of the acknowledgement for what they do to improve habitat, the irrigators want more reliable supplies of water for the Klamath Project.
Wendell Wood, an outspoken environmentalist and Southern Oregon field director for the Oregon Natural Resources Council, agree that the water users have done a number of projects to help endangered species.
But he says they need to be realistic about what the results of their efforts have been.
"We appreciate the landowner's efforts, and what they do helps. But don't delivers us a beat-up jalopy and say it is a Rolls Royce," he said.
Wood said the focus should be on getting water to the places that need it most, rather then using it on smaller projects.
"It doesn't do any good to build a wetland when there is no water in our refuges or in created wetlands," he said.
The lack of water for some of the irrigators' projects is one of the reasons Wood said there are problems with them.
He said two questions need to be asked about the water users' projects: How many of the parcels used in the projects are still farmed, and how many are wet come September?
Wood said the water should go to preexisting wetlands.
"First and foremost, the greatest priority is to provide water for the marshes that are already there," he said.
While the two sides have different strategies, they have the same goal - helping the environment in the Klamath Basin.
Jim Carpenter, co-owner of Carpenter Design, said all the interests involved with Klamath Basin water need to find ways to work together and cooperate. His company does ecological design, both small and large.
The first step would be for the groups to realize farmers are doing things to improve the environment.
"We need to get past the finger pointing and realize that we are in the Basin together so we need to find a cooperative solution," he said.
An example of a project that could be part of the solution is the Lost River Ranch.
Bill Kennedy, manger at the Lost River Ranch, said he has been involved with a number of the irrigators' projects, including work on his own land.
The 3,000-acre property east of Klamath Falls is a private wildlife refuge, and has been so since 1975. Cattle and wildlife coexist on the ranch.
Kenned said he has been working since the 1990s with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to aid the recovery of riparian pastures.
He said irrigators don't get credit for projects like those on the ranch, and many people in control of water in the Basin don't realize what happens if the projects don't get water.
"If they think they are just drying up some farmers and ranchers they are wrong." he said. "When they shut off the water they are not just hurting the people they are hurting the wildlife."
Reporter Dylan Darling covers natural resources.
Important Data From the Klamath Water Users Association’s Report: Summary of Recent and Proposed Environmental Restoration and Water Conservation Efforts Undertaken by Klamath Water Users and Basin Landowners
Prepared by the Klamath Water Users Association
Local efforts to assist the National Wildlife Refuges (Page 5):
During the drought years 1992 and 1994 – TID voluntarily shut off diversions to their project seven weeks early to provide more water for the suckers, salmon, and the National Wildlife Refuges
In 1997, the AG community actively worked to secure funding for Fish and Wildlife Service development of water supplies on Lower Klamath Refuge – obtained federal appropriations of approx $3 million for dedicated refuge water supplies.
In 2000, TID complied with a request to modify operations to increase water supply to Lower Klamath Refuge to accommodate a temporary shortage.
AG also worked to obtain funding for the Tule Lake Refuge Sump 1B Project to create 3,200 acres of seasonal marsh.
An Integrated Pest Management Plan was developed and adopted at an initial cost of over $500,000. As a result, lease land growers can use only 10 % of pest and weed control measures available in the State of California. Leaseland farmers have supported innovative practices such as flood and fallow of land for pest management and soil fertility.
AG, CWA, and Ducks Unlimited are proposing the following measures to USF&WS for improved coordination with refuge managers:
Develop Modified Operations of Klamath Project and District Facilities to Increase Deliver of Available Water to Refuges
Improve Efficiency of Lower Klamath Delivery System
Identify Projects for Funding to Increase Reliability of Klamath Project and Refuge Water Supply “Dry Year Reserve” Program to Idle Upper Basin Irrigated Acreage in 2001
Develop and Support Programs in 2001 on Project Lands to Increase Food Supply Available from Farmed Lands
Develop a Refuge Water Management Plan That Would Orient these Activities
While this letter was never even acknowledged by the USF&WS, local water users remain committed to advocate for these measures.
Local Efforts for Ecosystem Enhancement and Sucker Recovery Efforts (Page 6):
KWUA and its members have long promoted on-the-ground, effective and scientifically sound ecosystem enhancement projects in the basin.
1. In 1994 KWUA directly administered a program intended to reduce bank sloughing and sedimentation and improve water quality in the Sprague River (ranked as the eighth most degraded stream in Oregon by ODEQ) by allowing regeneration and planting of willows.
2. In 1995 under this program, over 14 miles of fencing and 4,000 willow saplings were established at a cost of over $250,000.
3. In 1993, KWUA published the Initial Ecosystem Restoration Plan – the first
ecosystem-based, scientifically valid planning document on Klamath Basin
restoration. The plan placed particular emphasis on real, on-the-ground projects to
recover endangered species.
4. In 2001, KUWA reiterated its previous report with the release of Protecting the
Beneficial Uses of Upper Klamath Lake: A Plan to Accelerate Recovery of the Lost
River and Shortnose Suckers.
5. Entrainment of endangered suckers and lack of connectivity between suckers
populations have been identified as some of the major effects of Project operations.
Project irrigators have played an active role in pushing for projects that improve
passage for suckers.
Screening the Main diversion at “A” canal: KWUA and the Klamath Irrigation District have been championing this idea since the early 1990’s.
Congressman Greg Walden crafted legislation to study fish passage at Chiloquin Dam that was included in the 2002 Farm Bill after consultation with the Klamath Tribes, Modoc Point Irrigation District, and KWUA.
ODF&W has spent approx $250,000 since 1996 on screening and fish passage improvement projects. An additional 40 similar projects (estimated to cost $1.3 million) are planned around UKL and along its tributaries.
Local water users have supported federal funding to implement a multi-year plan to design and install screens and ladders at other diversion in the Project area. In the summer of 2003, Reclamation will be letting a contract to construct a new fish ladder at Link River Dam, which will be completed by fall of 2004.
Wildlife Enhancement and Wetland Restoration Efforts Undertaken by Upper Basin Agricultural Interests (Page 9):
The land within the Klamath Project supports over 400 species of vertebrates that depend upon the productive irrigated lands for food, nesting habitat and privacy. Collaborative efforts between irrigation districts, state wildlife agencies and the USFWA include riparian pasture management, waterfowl nesting sites, and the creation of private wildlife refuges.
1. Farmland to wetland conversions
Federal agencies or non-profit conservation groups have acquired over 24,000 acres of farmland in the Upper Klamath Basin for habitat purposes. Of note, each time the agencies sought additional land they promised that each acquisition would provide environmental benefits, reducing pressure on the Klamath Project’s family farmers and ranchers. Consider the following examples:
a. Local irrigators supported the Wood River Project, a land acquisition project proposed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This project removed 3,300 acres from agricultural production to create wetlands and marsh habitat above Upper Klamath Lake (UKL). Support was conditioned upon promises that this project would provide mitigation benefits for the agricultural community. To date, this has not occurred
b. Project irrigators provided support required to approve the Tulana Farms project, adjacent to UKL, which took 3,600 acres of land out of Ag production. Prior to project approval, water users were assured that additional flexibility for UKL elevations to protect suckers would be provided by this acquisition. The project was approved, but the promised relief never materialized, and in fact, regulatory demands have increased, as evidenced by the 2001 Project water curtailment, which resulted, in part, from high lake levels imposed by the USFWS
c. Despite considerable concerns, Project water users were involved with securing funding for the Agency Lake Ranch project that converted 7,123 acres of Ag land to marsh and water storage.
d. The USFWS received support from local water users to purchase 7,160 acres of farmland and fold it into the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge. It is highly unlikely that the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors would have approved the acquisition if the local irrigation community had voiced opposition to the project. (Local property taxes go up when Ag land is turned over to the federal government.)
e. Local farms and ranchers worked to obtain funding for the Tule Lake Refuge Sump 1 B project to create 3,200 acres of seasonal marsh. Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) volunteered services to implement this project.
These restoration activities have all been completed in the past ten years.
2. Klamath Basin Ecosystem Restoration Office Coordination with Landowners
Project water users and other Ag interests in the Upper Klamath Basin have taken an active role in partnership-driven restoration actions since the early 1990’s. Between 1994 and 2001, 271 restoration projects costing over $10.5 million have been implemented through the Klamath Basin Ecosystem Restoration Office, administered by the USFWS. Most of these projects emphasize the objectives of improving water quality, quantity and timing of release of water, especially in relation to recovery of listed sucker species. Over 100 of these projects have been undertaken by participating landowners on private Ag land upstream of Iron Gate Dam, at a cost of over $5.2 million.
3. Partnership-Driven Conservation Efforts Undertaken by the USDA and Local Conservation Districts
The USDA had provided funding and technical assistance to local farmers and ranchers to engage in water and soil conservation practices on both sides of the California-Oregon state line. USDA funds are generally funneled through local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices, which administer these programs through the local soil and water conservation district (in Oregon) or Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) in California.
On the Oregon side of the Klamath Basin, the Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have provided a wide range of activities focused on assistance to farmers, conservation planning and implementation, and assistance with resource inventory and evaluation. In the last three years alone, these two agencies have provided general assistance to 3,812 customers, conservation planning and implementation to 248 farmers, and resource inventory and evaluation assistance to 325 property owners. A total of 591,851 acres on the Oregon side of the border have been involved in these programs.
On the California side, RCDs in Modoc and Siskiyou Counties have worked with local landowners to protect farmland and enhance wetland areas. Since 2000, over 1,700 acres of farmland have been enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) near Tulelake and in the Butte Valley. Since 1985, nearly 550 acres of farmland around Tulelake and in the Butte Valley have been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
4. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Partnership Projects
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) have been active in partnering with local landowner efforts to implement wildlife enhancement projects in the Upper Klamath Basin. Since 1995, efforts undertaken focus on riparian enhancement projects that benefit fish and 40 projects have been completed at a cost of $346,000.00. In addition before 1995, ODFW has completed other projects, particularly along the Sprague River including installation of fish screens and riparian / pond fencing.
5. Other Watershed Management Efforts
Numerous other efforts have been initiated by local and regional interests to enhance environmental values in the Klamath Basin. These include wetland programs administered by the US BOR’s Regional Office in Sacramento, the US Forest Service’s Small Grant Program, and waterfowl enhancement projects driven by Ducks Unlimited and California Waterfowl Association, and farmland conversion actions undertaken by The Nature Conservancy, Oregon state agencies, and local interests in watershed management pursuits.
Projects Completed by Voluntary Local Interests
Several conservation and restoration projects have been initiated by local landowners and funded at their own expense. During the 1994 drought, water users in the Fort Klamath area organized the release of a pulse flow of water intended to attract fish to spawning grounds above UKL. Timber companies such as Weyerhaeuser and U.S. Timberlands have taken an active role to protect local fish populations, particularly the bull trout. The Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District (KSWCD) and the Klamath Watershed Council have compiled a partial list of voluntary conservation project undertaken by independent farmers and ranchers in Klamath County (see Appendix Table A).
The Klamath Watershed Council has also worked extensively with the ranches on the Williamson River on a wide variety of actions, all undertaken on a voluntary basis, which includes the following:
Willow planting/caging, culvert work for fish habitat and passing, riparian fencing and cross fencing, cattle management changes, range studies, moisture metering, school tours, planting 250,000 pine seedlings, changes to irrigation management to reduce sediment, holistic management, mounting bluebird boxes, and improving the nesting conditions for wood ducks.
Local Efforts to Improve Water Quality (Page 16):
1. Oregon SB 1010 Implementation – Landowner advisory councils are working with the Oregon Department of Ag to address water quality management on the Lost and Klamath Rivers. Specific projects may include strategic water treatment ponds located throughout the project that will be sited based on objectives, location and cost criteria.
The Lost River Sub basin Ag Water Quality Management local Advisory Committee (LAC) began meeting in Feb 1998. Members represent the interests of local landowners, producer groups, irrigation districts, fish biologists, rural communities and businesses, and the Klamath SWCD. The mission of the LAC is to protect water quality in the Lost River watershed, while sustaining the Ag economy. Its goal is to prevent or control water pollution from Ag activities to protect beneficial uses in that area.
Klamath Headwaters (LAC) began meeting late fall of 1998. Members represent farming, ranching, the environmental community, the Klamath Tribes, and the Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District. The purpose of this group is to establish a framework to reduce Ag’s effect on water quality within the Klamath Headwaters Management Area.
2. Upper Klamath Lake Pilot Oxygenation Study
Reclamation is currently developing a pilot study to enhance oxygen conditions in UKL to promote the survival of endangered suckers. The overall goal of the pilot program is to add oxygen to bottom waters of a designated area of UKL, thereby improving water quality for the suckers.
KWUA water quality consultant Dr. Alex Horne of the UC, Berkeley, provided congressional testimony in March 2001 that presented the oxygenation project as a tool for sucker recovery. Earlier this year, Burleson Consulting released a report aimed at finding out the reasons for poor water quality in the lake. This report clearly shows that many of the assumptions about poor water quality in UKL have little foundation and that poor water quality is confined to only parts of the lake.
Due to budgetary constraints, this pilot study – originally planned for the summer of 2002 – has been delay until 2003.
3. Klamath Irrigation District – NPDES Permit
The Klamath Irrigation District (KID) in July 2002 secured a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water quality permit from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The permit, the first NPDES permit of its kind in Oregon, allows the district to apply the aquatic herbicide acrolein into its irrigation system to control excessive weed growth under guidelines that ensure protection of the environment. The permit is valid through June 30, 2007.
KID is the first such district in Oregon to be issued a NPDES permit for aquatic herbicide applications. KID’s pioneering efforts to secure the permit were hampered by intense scrutiny from environmental advocacy groups, particularly Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC). As the summer of 2002 wore on and KID waited for permit issuance, the district was beset with landowner complaints about irrigation water overflowing canal banks and flooding adjacent land. After investigating the matter, it was determined that the delay in applying acrolein contributed to the buildup of aquatic growth that restricted canal capacity and forced the water out of the delivery system in certain areas.
Critics of irrigated Ag have not given up on this issue, however, ONRC and Headwaters filed suit over the aquatic herbicide permit recently issued to KID. The environmental groups claim that ODEQ violated federal law by failing to consult with USFWS before issuing the permit. The groups have also included ODEQ’s federal counterpart – EPA – in its lawsuit.
4. Klamath County Public Works / Klamath County Drainage District Stormwater Quality Management Efforts
Stormwater runoff from urban area has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a potential source in delivering pollutants to receiving waters. Klamath County has completed three initial actions to comply with EPA.
Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) Training Klamath County has taken several steps to train County staff on erosion and sediment control measures
Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual This manual was adapted to address local climatic and environmental conditions
Illicit Discharge Connection Detection Klamath County in 2001 conducted a survey of the stormwater
conveyance system in the Klamath County / City of Klamath Falls
drainage area. The purpose of the survey was to detect illicit discharges
and determine if flows derived from seepage, irrigation, and illegal
connections of sanitary sewers, cooling water, geothermal connections or
other illegal sources.
5. DEQ Efforts
ODEQ is working with local landowners to implement projects intended to protect water quality. In the Klamath Basin, DEQ provides grant funds towards this end that are available through Section 319 of the Water Quality Act of 1987. DEQ is emphasizing few, bigger, and longer projects in order to address needs of the whole watershed enhancement, to sustain this effort over enough time to effect significant improvements.
Power Resource Development (Page 20):
Because Ag production requires sufficient, reliable and affordable power, there is a growing interest in developing more efficient and environmentally friendly means of power production. The Klamath Project’s power contract dates to 1917 when COPCO negotiated a deal with the U. S. Government to build Link River Dam. The power company received the run of the river for hydropower, while the government received affordable electricity for the Klamath Project. KWUA is involved with the renegotiations for a new contract that will be needed before 2007.
Efforts to Improve Klamath Project Water Supply Reliability (Page 21):
Local water users have taken a leadership role in addressing water management actions to improve water supply reliability for Klamath Project irrigators.
1. Involvement with KPOP Process:
Beginning in 1995, local water users and other stakeholder interests spent considerable time and resources engaging in the Klamath Project Operations Plan (KPOP) process. KPOP was initiated by Reclamation and was intended to guide operation of the Klamath Project facilities with consideration of effects upon endangered species, Tribal trust resources, agriculture, water quality, wetlands and wildlife. KPOP was further intended to reduce uncertainty associated with operations of the Project by clarifying guidelines for distribution of water during critical, dry, normal and wet years.
Under the original KPOP process, the Reclamation Klamath Area Office was to develop a long-term plan by the spring of 1996. If a draft of this was developed, it was never made public. From this time on, according to local water users, the federal decision-making process on (the) Klamath Project operations became much more closed.
The KPOP process evolved into an effort to develop a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for KPOP. By 2000 – or sooner – with increased focus placed on reconsultation, staffing, changes, and events leading to the 2001 water cutoff, KPOP and the EIS process it spawned had essentially fizzled.
2. 1999 – 2000 Efforts to Develop a Demand Reduction Program
In late 1999, Reclamation requested KWUA to conduct a water marketing study and plan a program tailored to meet the needs of the Klamath Project. KWUA established a dry year reserve subcommittee in early 2000 to develop this plan. Reclamation provided a grant to KWUA to administer this effort. KWUA developed a pilot dry year reserve program and bid proposals for consideration by Reclamation. The basic thrust of the proposal was to provide compensation to growers for either idling cropland or to withdraw irrigation water to certain acreage at selected times. After considerable discussion and time spent by KWUA representatives, Reclamation rejected this proposal and produced it own draft program – a different approach from the plan developed by KWUA – and collected bid proposals on February 15, 2001.
USBR’s program essentially compensated a group of irrigators for not farming. Unfortunately, on April 6, 2001, months after the demand reduction program was implemented – Reclamation announced that no water would be made available for Klamath Project irrigators our of UKL. Thus, the key principle promoted by KWUA’s dry year reserve committee – that all water users in the Klamath Project will have full delivery, if not, then they will be compensated – was violated.
3. 2002 Environmental Water Bank
The BOR in its 2002 final Biological Assessment (BA) proposes an environmental water bank through which willing buyers and sellers will provide additional water supplies for fish and wildlife purposes and to enhance tribal trust resources. “Deposits” into the bank would come from a variety of sources, including off-stream storage, temporary irrigation demand reduction, on-farm conservation and crop-shifting, and groundwater. Local water users and Ag producers have developed a draft technical report and an implementation framework regarding a voluntary Project environmental water bank. Certainty of water supplies is a key principle imbedded in this draft effort. Local water users insist that, in exchange for compensated participation in a Project water bank – which would be used to “fund” environmental water needs – 100% of the irrigation demand for remaining Project acreage will be satisfied, season-long.
Local water users believe that crop shifting or temporary idling of Ag land provides potential tools to assist with Project operations flexibility in dry years. This is a much different concept then permanently acquiring farmland for following or conversion of habitat.
Water users have been asked by Reclamation to have a program in place in time for the 2003 irrigation season.
Efforts to Improve Water Use Efficiency (Page 23):
While the overall water use in the Klamath Project is one of the most efficient in the nation, individual irrigation districts are reviewing opportunities to better quantify water use and timing, including installation of new water measurement devices. Also, with the influx of $50 million provided by the 2002 Farm Bill, individual farmers are also aggressively moving forward with projects intended to improve on-farm irrigation efficiency.
According to the 1998 Davids study, effective efficiency for the overall Project is 93 percent, making the Klamath Project one of the most efficient in the county. Thus, careful consideration should be given to implementing operational changes that meet their objectives without setting in motion a chain of unintended consequences that negate the benefits of the modified operations.
2002 Conservation Efforts (Page 24):
After hearing from Reclamation in August 2002 that additional conservation measure would me needed for the remainder of the irrigation season, local water districts urged irrigators to make every reasonable effort to conserve water and to pass that message on. Response from the Ag community was positive, as irrigators moved forward with actions intended to save water and reinitiate deliveries to national wildlife refuges. Reclamation and irrigation districts urged all water users to further reduce their withdrawals by 10 percent to ensure sufficient water to meet irrigation requirements and generate additional water for the refuges through October 15th, the end of the irrigation season. Project irrigators decided against new plantings, cut back on pasture irrigation, and used groundwater in place of Project surface water to save water where possible.
Despite the dry conditions, water users in the last six weeks of the season, reduced irrigation to ensure sufficient water to meet irrigation requirements and generate additional water for the national wildlife refuges. It is largely for these reasons that Reclamation was able to release an additional 12,000 acre-feet of water in early October to provide a “pulse flow” out of Iron Gate Dam intended to trigger overcrowded fish to move out of the diseased lower Klamath River earlier this fall.
Tulelake farmers also worked to provide whatever water they could to the refuges, similar to last year’s (2001) effort where farmers provided groundwater to the refuges after the water cutoff left them dry. Last year (2001) Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) and local farmers sent water to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. This water immediately began to replenish the wetlands and marshes vital to waterfowl, shorebirds, and bald eagles that rely upon them for resting and feeding opportunities.
2002 TID Groundwater Pumping Program (Page 25):
TID on July 17, 2002 entered into an agreement with Reclamation for the sale of 20,000 acre-feet of water from wells in Tulelake after it became apparent that there might not be enough water to meet all the Project, endangered species and Tribal trust objectives because of lower then predicted inflow to UKL.
Despite local controversy surrounding the proposal, the agreement helped to meet in-stream flow objectives in a dry water year and the purchase was conducted under the Klamath Project Water Enhancement Act (Public Law 106-498).
Conserving Water for the Future (Page 26):
Individual Klamath Basin landowners are aggressively pursuing projects through funds supplied by the 2002 Farm Bill for conservation efforts. Special funding is available for improving irrigation systems, increasing water storage and groundwater recharge and conversion to less water-intensive Ag activities.
178 applications for projects were received through December 31, 2002 from Klamath County farmers. In California, 175 growers have filed to apply for funds that will be used on nearly 300 parcels of land.
The majority of applications propose improving on-farm irrigation efficiency by converting flood irrigation to piped systems, upgrading sprinkler systems, and laser-leveling land.
Klamath Irrigation District (KID) has had to deal with many seeps from the main “A” Canal, caused by cracking and surface faulting of the channel due to it’s dried out condition in 2001. KID has spent considerable time, money, and effort to correct this problem in the A Canal and other ditches and laterals in the Project. KID is looking at lining the canals with bentonite, and may also have to install drainage pumps to pull unwanted drainage away from sensitive areas and route these waters back into the canal.
Klamath Drainage District (KDD) is proposing to construct a pumping plant to capture tailwater from upstream areas and re-circulate the water for additional uses.
Shasta View and Malin Irrigation Districts have converted a large part of their open-channel conveyance system to a subsurface piping system, making its irrigation delivery system one of the most efficient in the state. And district managers are currently assessing opportunities to convert more open ditches to piped distribution.
TID, last year, in partnership with Reclamation completed the largest project within Reclamation using a state-of-the-art canal lining material called Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM). Over 400,000 sq-ft of this material was used to line nearly 2 ˝ miles of open canal. Prior to the lining project, the yearly seepage losses in the canal were estimated at 1,000 acre-feet.
Water Users’ Approach to Basin Restoration (Page 27):
KWUA has striven for over ten years to advocate for truly effective restoration and are documented in three reports developed by the association 1) Initial Ecosystem Restoration Plan for the Upper Klamath River Basin With Focus on Endangered Species Recovery and Water Management Improvements ; 2) Protecting the Beneficial Uses of Waters of Upper Klamath Lake: A Plan to Accelerate Recovery of the Lost River and Shortnose Suckers; and 3) Comments on the Draft Upper Klamath River Basin Amendment to the Long Range Plan for the Klamath River Basin Conservation Area Fishery Restoration Program and the Long Range Plan.
Conclusions (Page 31):
Local Ag and business leaders have dedicated thousands of volunteer hours and have spent over $1 million in legal and consulting fees in the past ten years to participate in processes associated with environmental restoration, Klamath Basin water rights adjudication, dispute resolution, drought-proofing, and water supply enhancement. Local waters users have participated in these actions through the Kerns Group, Hatfield Upper Basin Working Group, Klamath Compact Commission, Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force, KPOP, the Klamath Basin Alternative Dispute Resolution process and local watershed councils. Many of these efforts were driven by a desire to implement meaningful restoration actions intended to provide some sort of mitigation “credit” that could be applied towards reducing the burden carried by Klamath Project irrigators to “protect” threatened and endangered fish species. To date, that credit has not been recognized, and Klamath Project irrigation water remains the sole regulatory tool used to address federal Endangered Species Act objectives.
What is truly impressive is the multitude of actions undertaken on-the-ground to effectuate improvements in the following areas:
Local efforts to assist National Wildlife Refuges Ecosystem Enhancement and Sucker Recovery Efforts in the Upper Basin Fish Passage Improvement Projects Wildlife Enhancement and Wetland Restoration Efforts Undertaken by Upper Basin Ag Interests Local Efforts to Improve Water Quality Power Resource Development Efforts to Improve Klamath Project Water Supply Reliability and Water Use Efficiency
It is clear that Klamath Basin irrigators have not been idle in the past ten years. Their efforts to improve their environment are all the more impressive when you consider that, all the while, the uncertainty and difficulty associated with keeping their farming operations profitable have not diminished. But what are the benefits from these proactive actions? Can the USF&WS demonstrate improved water quality in UKL? Have sucker populations increased? Is there more certainty for Project water users?
Because these efforts have not yet provided any relief to Project irrigators towards meeting the ESA-driven requirements imposed by NMFS and USF&WS, local irrigators have assumed a more reluctant stance in recent years to support further, similar efforts.
KWUA adheres to the following principles to guide our involvement in forging a Basin solution”
Unassailable scientific rational for all biological opinions – both process and substance;
Coordination and integration of restoration activities, and accountability for those actions;
Congressional support for meaningful restoration activities throughout the Klamath Basin for listed species and the refuges; and
Alleviation of the disproportionate ESA burden now borne only by the Klamath Project.
Our pioneering heritage is based upon common sense and harmony with our environment and our community. Local water users will continue to support their agricultural lifestyle and coexistence with nature.