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Tri-County Leaders push for full water allocation in Klamath Project

May 17, 2024

Supervisors from Siskiyou and Modoc Counties join Klamath County Commissioners in an urgent appeal to Reclamation.

 

On May 13, 2024, Siskiyou and Modoc Counties, California Supervisors, along with the Klamath County, Oregon Commissioners (Tri-County), wrote a letter to Camille Calimlim Touton, Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), calling for additional allocation of water deliveries to the Klamath Project.

Tri-County Leaders are urging Reclamation to revise the Klamath Project allocation to provide full 2024 water delivery from Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River. They expressed disappointment with Reclamation’s announcement of water for less than two-thirds of irrigation needs despite current hydrologic conditions, including more than adequate snowpack.

“This is an informed, thoughtful letter that is also consistent with the sentiments of agricultural producers. We can’t let common sense be suffocated by federal agencies’ decision-making processes,” said Paul Simmons, KWUA Executive Director.

The letter expresses concerns about whether dedication of water for ongoing Klamath watershed restoration projects are adversely affecting the balance between irrigation, refuges, lake levels, and river flows. The Tri-Counties emphasize the necessity of a full allocation, citing sufficient water supplies for fisheries and recent efforts to secure water deliveries to the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges.

“With half a billion dollars on the line, the local economy of Klamath, Modoc, and Siskiyou Counties are solidly founded on agriculture,” stated Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot. “By denying water to some of the nation’s most fertile soils, our local tax base to support numerous social programs, such as addressing the affordable housing situation, begins to collapse.”

The letter reads:

Dear Commissioner Touton:

The counties of Klamath, Oregon, and Modoc and Siskiyou, California (Tri-Counties) are calling for the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to immediately revise the Klamath Project allocation to provide full water deliveries for 2024 from Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River. In early April the Tri-Counties sent a similar letter requesting a full allocation, and we were disappointed by Reclamation’s announcement of less than two-thirds of irrigation needs. Current hydrologic conditions and snowpack are more than adequate to provide a full allocation. In fact, recent precipitation events have required flood control operations be initiated.

It appears that current Klamath Watershed restoration activities are having a negative impact on balancing the needs of irrigation, refuges, lake levels, and river flows. We want to be a good partner on restoration activities, but not to the detriment of balancing the system. Anything less than a full allocation to the Klamath Project is unacceptable, especially given adequate water supplies for fisheries, and recent efforts, spearheaded by Klamath Project irrigators, to secure water deliveries to the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuges.

Sincerely,

Brandon A. Criss, District 1
Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors

Michael N. Kobseff, District 3
Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors

Ned Coe, District I
Modoc County Board of Supervisors

Geri Byrne, District V
Modoc County Board of Supervisors

Derrick DeGroot
Klamath County Commissioner

Download letter

 

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Cover Photo caption: Tri-County leaders advocate for a full allocation of water for the Klamath Project amidst concerns over insufficient irrigation deliveries and the impact of ongoing watershed restoration activities on regional water balance and ecosystems.

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