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.
Farmers and Ranchers of the Klamath Project
Farmers & Ranchers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2018
KWUA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT WHITE RESIGNING
Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director Scott White has notified the KWUA Board of Directors of his decision to resign from the position. Scott has performed in the job since February 2016 and guided the organization through difficult times.
“Scott was the right person at the right time,” said KWUA President Brad Kirby. “We’re united and stronger than we were when Scott arrived.” The past few years have included very dry conditions, litigation, an injunction, and a challenging situation for all Klamath Project farmers.
Rob Unruh, a Shasta View Irrigation District farmer that served as KWUA President when Scott was hired, said “This is a tough job and it has been a very tough year. Probably no one is shocked to see Scott make this change, but we are grateful for all that he has done.”
Kirby said that the organization will begin a search to fill Scott’s position immediately. “We intend to act promptly and carefully to try to fill Scott’s shoes, while wishing him all the best.” In the meantime, KWUA attorney Paul Simmons will serve as interim executive director, according to Kirby.
KWUA is a non-profit private corporation that has represented Klamath Reclamation Project farmers and ranchers in its current form since 1953. The Association’s membership includes rural and suburban irrigation districts, other public and private entities and individuals who operate on both sides of the California-Oregon border. These entities and individuals typically hold water delivery contracts with the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The Klamath Project is home to over 1200 family farms and ranches and encompasses over 170,000 acres.
KWUA is governed by an 11-member board of directors who are appointed from Klamath Project member districts.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 17, 2018
CRITICAL KLAMATH PROJECT RELIEF LEGISLATION ADVANCES
House of Representatives Passes America’s Water and Infrastructure Act of 2018 with Key Klamath Provisions Included
Washington, DC – Last Thursday, the United States House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass America’s Water and Infrastructure Act (AWIA) which included provisions that are vital to Klamath Project water users.
“These provisions are a major step forward that will immediately aid both water users and the Bureau of Reclamation in managing water more effectively and efficiently, given the number of constraints we currently face.” said Marc Staunton, a KWUA board member and farmer near Tulelake, California, and was in Washington DC meeting with law makers and agency officials when the bill (S. 3021) passed.
The provisions included in AWIA to enable the Project to meet the essential needs of water users would:
1. Allow Reclamation to plan, implement, and administer programs to align water supplies and demand for irrigation water users associated with the Klamath Project, with a preference for programs developed or supported by Project water users. This will greatly assist in avoiding and minimizing any effects on water users of insufficient Project supply.
2. Provide any entity operating within the Klamath Project that uses Klamath Project water, may use, without any additional Federal contract, permit, or other authorization, and Klamath Project works or facility to convey non-Klamath Project water for any authorized purpose of the Klamath Project
3. Direct the Secretary of Interior, in consultation with Project water users, to present a report that identifies the power cost paid by water users in other projects and recommends actions that are necessary and appropriate to ensure that Project water users’ cost is equal to or less than those other projects.
Scott White, Executive Director of KWUA, who was also in Washington with Mr. Staunton, praised the level of commitment by legislators -- especially the Oregon delegation -- to ensure the Klamath provisions were included in the AWIA: “Congressman Walden, as well as Senators Merkley and Wyden, along with their staffs were instrumental in getting this language included and passed. It wouldn’t have happened without our Delegation’s strong desire to solve problems in this basin,” White said. He also acknowledged the support and assistance of the California delegation, including Rep. Doug LaMalfa, and the Leadership and staff of House and Senate committees. “We are so grateful to all involved.”
The Senate is expected to take up the measure in the coming weeks.
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.
For Immediate Release
July 20, 2018
For more information: Klamath Water Users Association
This morning, Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California heard oral arguments in the lawsuit filed by the Klamath Tribes against the Bureau of Reclamation, seeking a preliminary injunction that would require immediate shut-off of Klamath Project water deliveries.
The court also considered the motions to dismiss filed by KWUA and the federal defendants that argued that the case was not properly filed in San Francisco. The Court did not issue any ruling from the bench. Water users who attended the hearing were encouraged by the overall hearing. Water users feels that remarks by the Court suggested that it is likely the Court will agree that the case should not have been filed in San Francisco, and it seems likely the Court will transfer the
case to the federal courts in Oregon.
If that occurs, Judge Orrick will not rule on the motion for preliminary injunction, but water users at the hearing had the impression that he did not believe the motion had merit. If the case if transferred to Oregon, the motion for preliminary injunction can be considered there, if the Tribes decide to continue with it. The timing of that process is unknown.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2018
Contact Information: Scott White
Klamath Falls, OR – Yesterday, a federal district court judge for the northern district of California denied a motion for preliminary injunction brought by the Klamath Tribes. The tribe’s request for preliminary injunction asked for higher lake levels in Upper Klamath Lake until a new ESA consultation is complete for two species of suckers that are listed as endangered. The preliminary injunction would have required an immediate halt to irrigation water deliveries in the Klamath Project.
“The law and science did not support this extraordinary request,” said Scott White, Executive Director for KWUA. “Federal experts also did not agree with the argument for higher lake levels.”
Judge William Orrick stated in the ruling that, “the scientific evidence is very much in dispute, and I cannot conclude that the Klamath Tribes are likely to prevail on the merits nor that the sucker fish are suffering irreparable injury as a result of the lake elevation levels.” Additionally, the court said, “[the] Klamath Tribes have failed to show that their proposed remedy is in the sucker fish’s best interest.”
The ruling comes at a time when family farmers and ranchers are in mid-season of their operation. A preliminary injunction for higher lake levels would have resulted in immediate curtailment of water deliveries to the Klamath Reclamation Project where many millions of dollars have been invested in getting crops into the ground on over 150,000 acres.
Luther Horsley, a KWUA board member and farmer near Midland, Oregon stressed the significance of continuing to farm for the remainder of the season. “I lived the ‘shut off’ of 2001 and we must never repeat that year ever again,” he explained. “This year was poised to be even more catastrophic given we’re in the middle of our growing season. I am so thankful for this decision.”
In additions to agriculture, the curtailment would also have precluded water deliveries for national wildlife refuges. Last week, conservationists and farmers alike wrote to Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke expressing concerns about impacts on waterfowl populations that could result from the proposed injunction for suckers. The letter stated that, “shutting down the Klamath Project would not only severely impact water deliveries to the Klamath Refuge Complex, but also to the important waterfowl food resources provided by local agriculture.”
Although it appears family farms will be able to bring their crops to harvest this year, the ruling did not end the case. The court granted KWUA and the government’s motions to change venue to Oregon which means that this case could be heard in an Oregon court. But yesterday’s ruling makes clear that the Klamath Tribes would have to find different arguments in order to have a chance of obtaining the type of ruling they asked for.
White stressed that although KWUA is pleased and agrees with the ruling, there is still work to be done. The Lost River and shortnose sucker are important to Klamath Tribes. They are important to us,” asserted White. “The ESA or the courts are not going to solve the problems facing these fish. The solution will come within our community. We remain ready to address these challenges collaboratively, as partners.”
KWUA is a non-profit private corporation that has represented Klamath Reclamation Project farmers and ranchers since 1953. The Association’s membership includes rural and suburban irrigation districts, other public and private entities and individuals who operate on both sides of the California-Oregon border. These entities and individuals typically hold water delivery contracts with the United States Bureau of Reclamation and deliver water to over 1200 family farms and ranches encompassing more than 170,000 acres.