Thursday, February 11, 2010

BuRec's Non-Agricultural Klamath Water Users - Where's the Obama "tansparency"?

In our last post we asked whether a golf course is more important than salmon and went on to point out some of the non-irrigation, non-agricultural “customers” of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project. These non-agricultural water users will get water ahead of salmon IF the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) is locked-in via federal legislation.

Here are more photos showing a few of these non-agricultural users of Klamath River Water ~

Reams Golf and Country Club one of BuRec's Klamath Project "customers"

Hi-tech Collins Particle Board Plant along Route 66 near Klamath Falls.
This new development gets water before salmon under the KBRA!

The Modoc Lumber site in Klamath Falls has already been "redeveloped". 
New owners get rights to Klamath water ahead of salmon under the KBRA!

The Bureau of Reclamation needs to come clean with just how many of its water customers are non-agricultural and how much Klamath River water it diverts to serve these non-agriculture users. Obama’s Interior appointees - like Klamath lead and Deputy Interior Secretary Laura Davis - need to make this happen. After all, isn’t this the Administration that promised us “transparency”?

If BuRec or the Obama folks won’t come clean, then Mike Thompson and other Klamath River champions in Congress should demand the information when they consider Klamath legislation. The public needs to know who will get Klamath water ahead of salmon if Congress endorses the KBRA.

Supplying Klamath River water to non-agricultural users is no problem, of course, if there is enough water for salmon, Klamath Basin Agriculture and these other uses. KBRA promoters say there is plenty of water now and will be more later if Congress puts them in charge. Some of them even claim that salmon will get more water under the KBRA than they currently get via the Endangered Species Act. Others dispute that assertion. BuRec should also come clean with the actual data - how much water has BuRec diverted to its Klamath Project "customers" in each year that the present biolgiocal opinion for Coho Salmopn has been in place?

Our interest in this question - and our concern about Klamath River flows if the KBRA is enshrined in federal legislation - recently escalated when - through study of the exceedingly complex and dense KBRA- we learned that the situation is even worse than we realized. Here is the KBRA provision that has raised our level of alarm:

KBRA section 15.1.1 (Public Review Draft, Page 52)

This Agreement provides for limitations on specific diversions for the Klamath Reclamation Project,  as described in this Section 15.1.1 and as provided in Appendix E-1. The limitations are intended, particularly in drier years, to increase water availability for Fisheries purposes, while Section 15.1.2 provides terms for the allocation and delivery of water to National Wildlife Refuges. Section 15.2 establishes the program by which KWAPA will address the limitations on diversions. The DIVERSION quantity as specified in Appendix E-1 for the irrigation season will increase by 10,000 acre-feet in some years effective March 1 after the earlier of: (i) the physical removal of all or part of each of the Hydroelectric Facilities has occurred and achieved a free-flowing condition and volitional fish passage; (ii) 10,000 acre-feet of new storage has been developed under Section 18.3; or (iii) the KBCC, on or after February 1, 2020 and after receipt of recommendations from the TAT, determines the increase is appropriate.

Careful reading of the portion in bold font makes it clear that – whether or not the optimistic hope of KBRA promoters for more water storage and “environmental water” are realized and whether or not the dams come down – BuRec and its “customers” will get 10,000 additional acre feet more water to do with as they please before salmon get one additional drop. All that will be needed is agreement of the “KBCC” – the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council – a KBRA creation that puts those who sign the Deal in charge of Klamath Water Management and which consequently disenfranchises all other stakeholders.

KlamBlog has a question in this regard for those who claim that the KBRA proposed river flows and water allocations are based on (good) science. Where is the science to back up reducing flows in the river by 10,000 acre feet when the dams come out? KlamBlog is particularly directing this question to employees of the US Fish & Wildlife Service who have been using their positions to promote the KBRA – including making presentations which claim the KBRA has a solid foundation in science. How about it gentlemen? SHOW US THE SCIENCE!

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