Water sought for salmon - Agency hoping more irrigators will join project
(Note: Please see letter to the editor that immediately follows this article, below.)
January 18, 2006

By Dylan Darling, Record Searchlight ddarling@redding.com or 530-225-8266


The Record Searchlight

P.O. Box 492397

Redding, California 96049-2397


Fax: 530-225-8236


To submit a Letter to the Editor: bross@redding.com (200-word limit)


Federal officials in the Klamath Basin again are calling on irrigators to change their operations to help protected salmon in the Klamath River.

After the basin’s 2001 water crisis, the Bureau of Reclamation started paying some irrigators to switch from canal to groundwater, let fields go fallow or put their groundwater into the canals.

The "water bank" program is in its fourth year, and officials need enough interested people to save 100,000 acre-feet of water.

In calculating its balances for the water bank, federal officials also add water held in storage on two ranches above Upper Klamath Lake. Last year, the two properties provided about 25,000 acre-feet.

An acre-foot is the amount of water it would take to cover 1 acre, 1-foot deep. Required by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries to ensure flows for threatened coho salmon on the river, the first water bank had 50,000 acre-feet, the second 75,000 and the third 100,000.

NOAA Fisheries’ biological opinion, the document that guides management of the Klamath River, calls for the water bank to reach 100,000 acre-feet from this year until 2010. A lawsuit brought by a commercial fishermen’s group pending in U.S. District Court could extend that timeline beyond 2010, said Jeff McCracken, bureau spokesman.

For more information, call the bureau at 541-883-6935. Program information, application forms and a sample contract are available on the Bureau’s Klamath Basin Area Office’s Web site at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao

Copyright 2006, Record Searchlight.



Letter to the Editor of the Record Searchlight:


Irrigators and The Energizer Bunny


Federal and other officials continue to mistake Klamath irrigators for a certain battery-powered rabbit. The expectation is that irrigators will keep on giving ... and giving ... and giving.

Irrigation districts are not for profits, which rely on O & M (Operations and Maintenance) that must be paid each year before water is delivered. The 2006 O & M is $29 per acre in the Klamath Irrigation District, one of 11 irrigation districts in the Project. See http://www.KlamathBucketBrigade.org/KIDBMnotes_nov05.htm  

Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) passes on to the irrigation districts a $7 per acre charge, which covers legal defense and other aspects of Project landowners. The Project is a national and global food production Mecca unmatched in its ability to utilize a mere 3-4 percent of Klamath River water.

Record Searchlight readers may desire additional information on the Federal Klamath Irrigation Project, available at the following websites:






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