News Release . . .

United States Congress
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           

March 22, 2018
Contact: Sara Hottman (Merkley) – 503-326-3386
Hank Stern (Wyden) – 503-326-7539
Justin Discigil (Walden) – 202-226-7338 

Merkley, Wyden, Walden Deliver Resources to Address Klamath Water Crisis

The funding will help with persistent water resource challenges in the region

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, with Representative Greg Walden (R-OR 2), today announced that resources for Klamath-area irrigators and tribes are included in the 2018 spending bill, providing some resources to help communities cope with imminent drought and ongoing water challenges.

“As we look ahead to a difficult summer of drought, I know that the Klamath community is doing the hard work on the ground to build a better future,” Merkley said. “The resources in this bill will help Klamath families through the summer, as well as support long-term planning and habitat restoration . I greatly appreciate the tremendous work Congressman Walden did on the House side to achieve this result. I will continue to do everything I can to assist the Klamath community through these challenging times.”

 “I heard a clear commitment at my recent Klamath County town hall and in conversations throughout the Klamath Basin from the tribes, ranchers, farmers, small businesses, fishing families and conservationists to developing water solutions that help everybody,” Wyden said. “A big part of building on that urgent need for common ground in the face of a dire drought forecast is ensuring these short-term and long-term resources are available. This is an important continuation of an ongoing effort to bring certainty to the Basin.”

“This plan will provide immediate drought relief for irrigators in the Klamath Basin, helping our farmers survive this challenging water year,” Walden said. “I have been working with my Oregon colleagues in the Senate, as well as the Trump Administration, to secure this vital funding and ensure it will be available to help with groundwater pumping and other priorities for water users in the Basin. This addition to funding will ensure the Bureau of Reclamation has the ability to implement these measures as they navigate the current water year. While this short-term help is important and needed, we still need a long term solution that provides certainty for farmers, ranchers, tribes and fish in the Basin. I look forward to continue working with the local community, my Oregon colleagues in Congress, and the Administration to accomplish that.”

 The 2018 spending bill released yesterday includes a reauthorization of the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act, which is expected to give the Bureau of Reclamation the flexibility this summer to help water users within the Klamath Reclamation Project.

Oregon’s delegation has been working behind the scenes in a bipartisan, bicameral effort to lobby Minority Leader Schumer and Speaker Ryan to secure additional funding in the omnibus bill to help the Klamath Basin this summer. In addition, Merkley and Walden have weighed in directly with Bureau of Reclamation leadership and with Speaker Ryan and Leader Schumer to ensure funding reaches the Klamath Basin to cope with drought this summer.

 The delegation also successfully preserved $3 million to continue advancing habitat restoration in the Upper Basin. The funding supports U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s fisheries restoration efforts and the Klamath Tribes’ technical capacity for planning for conservation and habitat restoration.

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Letter for a concerned Project User

3-16-2018

-----Original Message-----

From: Bill Heiney

Sent: Friday, March 16, 2018 9:26 AM

To: Scott White

Subject: Letter of Concern

 March 16, 2018

Dear KWUA Board of Directors,

Please distribute among your membership and the general public.

2018 feels like a repeat of 2001. Our current watershed conditions are similar to 2015, but we have no allocation, no start date, and no tools to develop a water bank. I read in today's Herald and News that the Bureau is once again not going to release a start date at their next public meeting. This is unprecedented and unacceptable.

In 2015 we were extremely busy collecting bids and developing programs with water users to augment lake levels and river flows for endangered species. The Programs were a huge success.  This allowed the Project irrigators to use water that historically flowed unquantified to their land. We have spent millions of dollars on projects and programs to allow all species to survive, i.e. farmers, fish, waterfowl, businesses and tribes.  Now to abandon those projects & programs and circle back around to what looks like a 2001 water shut off, makes me sick.

 2001 was a year when I saw many homesteader veterans lose faith in our system. A year when I saw many of my friends and neighbors go broke. A year when I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars myself, and a year when I told my kids (potential 4th generation farmers) that they would never farm. I am extremely sick of the repeat that I see coming.

 Sincerely,

Bill Heiney

 

Over 60 years of Representing

Farmers and Ranchers of the Klamath Project

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Hearing Update:  

 Judge Orrick requested a Supplemental Briefing due as soon as possible, no later than week from when the Request for Supplemental Briefing was made.

From the order: "In evaluating this issue in reference to the 2013 Biological Opinion, it is not clear to me whether the 81 and 91 percent figures were measured consistently with the incidental take triggers (54 percent via histology or 49 percent via QPCR). I request supplemental briefing from the parties on this issue."

While we still have no decision, Judge Orrick is thoughtfully looking at the evidence. Hopefully our irrigators will be able to turn on this season - and soon. You can read both pages of the order below.