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Over 70 Years of Representing the Farmers and Ranchers of Klamath Project

2:33 am, Apr 21, 2024
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Statement to Klamath Project irrigation water users

Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) is extremely concerned by a communication from the Bureau of  Reclamation that was transmitted at 5:30 p.m. last night. Since receipt, we have been taking all steps in our  power to avoid a terrible situation from arising. 

Specifically, yesterday’s letter from Reclamation identified a “projected shortfall in the Upper Klamath Lake elevation of 4139.2 that was identified” in its May 19, 2023, Klamath Project operations plan. Translated, this  means that Upper Klamath Lake levels are on a trajectory to go below elevation 4139.2 feet above sea level,  the unprecedented, artificially high threshold called for in Reclamation’s 2023 Klamath Project Operations  Plan. 

The letter from Reclamation states that there is a likelihood of reduction in Project Supply in order to reduce  or eliminate the shortfall, and that “a determination with definitive actions will be announced next week.”  Translated, that means the federal agencies anticipate that they will tell family farms to shut down crop  production before the Project has diverted the 260,000 acre-feet of water, we were told would be available  this year.  

Soon after we received the letter from Reclamation, the Department of Justice filed a notification with the  federal court for the Northern District of California providing and describing Friday afternoon’s letter and its  contents. There was and is no obligation for them to have made this filing. It is hard to escape the conclusion  that the government is painting itself into a corner and closing the door on any alternatives other than  ordering a shutdown of food production. Again. 

KWUA is committed to supporting our community and working tirelessly to secure water for our farmers  and ranchers. The well-being of our community and the sustainability of our agricultural heritage are our top  priorities. We are taking all possible steps to immediately address the situation and prevent a tragedy or  unnecessary conflict.  

My outrage cannot compare to those of you who have so much at stake. We are actively working to prevent  a very, very bad decision from being made. 

Paul Simmons 

Executive Director and Counsel for  

Klamath Water Users Association

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