FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2020
Contact Information: Paul Simmons, KWUA Executive Director
(916) 769-6685 firstname.lastname@example.org
Klamath Waters Users Association (KWUA) expressed strong support for U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s announcement earlier today of Klamath Project management adjustments to finish the irrigation season while benefitting wildlife refuges. “This is the kind of creative thinking and flexibility we need in the basin,” said KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons.
Commissioner Burman announced augmented water deliveries to wildlife refuges to combat avian botulism. There will also be an exchange of water from the Lost River basin. Under that approach, current Upper Klamath Lake diversions will be replenished by offsetting releases from the Lost River system that occur later in the year, facilitating refuge deliveries and increasing total irrigation water supply by about five percent for the year.
In April, irrigators learned that water supplies from Upper Klamath Lake would be only about 140,000 acre-feet, far less than one-half of the need for farms and wildlife refuges that are served through irrigation districts. Simmons said that district managers and irrigators taken unprecedented action to stretch the limited supply.
“This has been a terrible year by any measure,” said Simmons. “But the irrigation community has been very resourceful and is doing an incredible job of stretching what little we’ve got.”
Water deliveries for wildlife refuges so far this year have been extremely limited. However, through cooperation by irrigation districts and federal managers, refuges have received more water than their entitlement for the year. “We respectfully co-exist with the wildlife, and we do the right thing for our neighbors, including the wildlife refuges,” said Tulelake Irrigation District President John Crawford.
Today’s announcement will not reduce the amount of water planned for release to the Klamath River during the irrigation season, which is over 400,000 acre-feet.
“There should be no mistake: the amount of water for Project irrigation and refuges this year is unacceptably low. There has already been significant damage to farm communities and wildlife,” said Simmons. “But today’s management decision is welcome news.”
He added that KWUA is driven to work with other parties to reach more stable conditions for communities throughout the basin after such an uncertain and troubling year.
“No one will be feeling any nostalgia for 2020.”
Click here to read Reclamation’s press release.