KWUA / Klamath Water Users Association "Weekly Update"

 

February 13, 2004

 

If you have any questions about the "Weekly Update", please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Dan Keppen
Executive Director
Klamath Water Users Association
2455 Patterson Street, Suite #3
Klamath Falls, OR  97603
541-883-6100

Fax: 541-883-8893

 

Interior Department Responds to Klamath Congressional Delegation

 

The office of the Secretary of Department of the Interior last week formally updated the Upper Klamath Basin congressional delegation on a number of key resources issues.  Interior Deputy Chief of Staff Sue Ellen Wooldridge responded to U.S. Reps. John Doolittle, Wally Herger and Greg Walden, who posed several policy questions to the Interior Secretary’s office last September.

 

Wooldridge’s letter notes that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will continue collaboration with all fishery interests in the Klamath Basin to gather and make the best use of high-quality scientific information.

 

“Towards that end, FWS believes that a number of the recommendations identified by the Klamath Water Users Association have merit,” she wrote. “The FWS has begun to address or implement several of the recommendations that pertain to its areas of expertise and will carry out additional recommendations in the future as funding and staff allow.”

 

Among the sucker fish recommendations proposed by the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) in the past decade is one that relates to the issue of fish passage at Chiloquin Dam. In the past year, local collaborators reached consensus and agreed to support the dam removal alternative as the preferred solution to improving fish passage conditions at Chiloquin Dam. Congress earmarked $1,000,000 for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to prepare during fiscal year 2004 for removal of Chiloquin Dam. This money will be used for planning, engineering, and compliance activities for removing Chiloquin Dam and providing an alternate water supply for the Modoc Point Irrigation District. President Bush’s fiscal year 2005 budget includes $2,100,000 for actual removal of the dam and construction of the alternate water supply.

 

Wooldridge’s letter also focuses on two high-profile water storage projects promoted by various interests in the Upper Basin – Long Lake reservoir and the Barnes Ranch.

 

Wooldridge noted that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is reviewing its 1987 assessment of Long Lake Reservoir, which questioned the feasibility of this project because of potential seepage losses out of the reservoir floor. Klamath County commissioners and Klamath Project water users have questioned a recent updated cost estimate prepared by [the Bureau of] Reclamation.

 

The Interior Department letter also addresses the department’s efforts related to another proposed storage project – Barnes Ranch. The 2,670-acre Barnes Ranch is privately owned pasture land. The fiscal year 2005 budget includes funding to acquire the property as part of the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

 

“Managing the property as wetland and lake habitat in conjunction with the existing national wildlife refuge and the adjacent Agency Lake Ranch of the Bureau of Reclamation would provide valuable larval and nursery habitat for the endangered suckers of Upper Klamath Lake, as well as reduce nutrient loading to the lake,” wrote Wooldridge.

 

KWUA has advocated that both Long Lake and Barnes be further assessed under the authority provided by 2000 congressional legislation.

 

Bush Administration Klamath Funding Spans Agencies and Watershed

 

Actual, enacted and requested Bush Administration funding in the Klamath River watershed for fiscal years 2003-2005 exceeds $260 million dollars, according to a federal government summary.  Nine federal agencies have escalated attention throughout the watershed as spending has risen from $75.9 million in FY 2002 to the $103.6 million recently requested by President Bush for FY 2005. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) have been the primary recipients of this funding. The total actual, enacted and requested funding levels for all nine agencies for FY 2003-05 are:

 

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation                          $93.8 million

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service                       $28.8 million

U.S. Geological Survey                                   $  5.9 million

Bureau of Indian Affairs                                   $16.4 million

National Park Service                                      $  1.1 million

Bureau of Land Management                         $21.6 million

NOAA Fisheries                                               $11.5 million

Nat’l Resource Conservation Service            $76.5 million

U.S. Forest Service                                          $13.5 million

 

Key Reclamation expenditures in the past few years have supported construction of the “A” Canal fish screen and other Endangered Species Act actions, and the Klamath Project and off-Project water bank program. The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding accounts for nearly half of the FY 2003-05 NRCS budget. Currently, over 700 Klamath Basin EQIP applications to improve on-farm water use efficiency have been received by NRCS.

 

Bureau of Indian Affairs funding in the Klamath Basin is directed to addressing natural resources issues involving the Klamath, Karuk, Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes.

 

Commissioners Respond as WaterWatch Drops Support for Long Lake 

 

Two Klamath County Commissioners have sent letters to U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) in response to formal statements made by WaterWatch, an Oregon environmental advocacy group. Commissioners John Elliot and Al Switzer each responded to a recent WaterWatch letter to Senator Smith in which the activist organization withdrew support for Long Lake, a storage proposal endorsed by the Klamath County Commission.

 

“According to the WaterWatch letter, they now oppose even studying the Long Lake storage proposal that our Commission endorsed last year,” Commissioner Elliot wrote Senator Smith. “While I certainly respect WaterWatch’s right to take whatever position it chooses, their letter unfortunately contains several statements that I believe must be clarified as you consider the merits of the Long Lake proposal.”

 

The letters sent by Elliot and Switzer, while focusing primarily on cost estimates associated with Long Lake, also question statements made by WaterWatch regarding other issues:

 

Natural Storage Through Wetlands Restoration

 

Demand Reduction

 

Wetlands Restoration in Lower Klamath and Tule Lakes

 

Leaselands

 

“I am encouraged by WaterWatch’s commitment to work with your offices to develop solutions in the Klamath Basin, although I may have different ideas of what those solutions may be.” Switzer wrote Smith.

 

“However, it is far too early to dismiss Long Lake as a potential viable option that may provide real water to meet the needs of the watershed.”

 

KWUA Welcomes Julie Borga

 

The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) has added a new staff member to the association’s office in Klamath Falls. Julie Borga, the association’s new administrative assistant, started work at KWUA on February 5th 2004.

 

Julie brings considerable accounting and office management experience to KWUA. Prior to moving to Klamath Falls last year, she worked for private sector firms in southern California and Las Vegas.

 

At KWUA, the administrative assistant provides vital administrative support to staff and serves as an information link to members, legislative staff, business associates and the general public. Julie will coordinate meetings with agency officials, legislators and staff, prepare information for KWUA’s Board of Directors, Executive Directors and members, process all accounts receivables, and assist in the procurement of fixed assets.

 

“We are pleased to add Julie to the KWUA team,” said KWUA Executive Director Dan Keppen. “She was ultimately selected from a pool of 45 applicants, where her experience and poise set her apart from others. She provides a great fit to our association.” 

 

Calendar of Events 

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2004 – KWUA Executive Committee Meeting and 2004 Elections. 2:00 p.m. KWUA Office, 2455 Patterson Street, Suite 3, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2004 – California Potato Research Advisory Council Research Meeting. The Honker Community Center, Tulelake, California.

 

Tuesday, February 24 – Thursday, February 26, 2004. Klamath Watershed Conference. Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

 

Tuesday, February 24, 2004. Klamath River Compact Commission Business Meeting. 4:00 p.m. Sunset Room, Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, Oregon.