Monday, February 1, 2010

Is a golf course more important than salmon? – KBRA gives Non-Ag entities water priority over fish.

At the end of the massive and complex Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) Public Review Draft (Appendix F) there is a list and contact information for the official representatives of the “parties” - The “parties” are the organizations which are expected to sign the KBRA, possibly as early as mid-February.

KlamBlog became curious because several of the parties listed as “Related to the Klamath Reclamation Project” are obviously not farms or ranches…they are not even related to agriculture. So we took a closer look. Here’s what we found:
  • One of the non-ag, non-irrigator parties is Collins Products LLC which operates a state-of-the-art particle board mill along Highway 66 near Klamath Falls.  Collins is noted as a producer of FSC certified sustainable wood products; the company has a certified forest in nearby Lakewood. It is likely that a first-in-line water rights would be a valuable asset which the company could lease to the highest bidder or use to produce particle board. 
  • Modoc Lumber Company operated a lumber mill on the shores of Lake Ewana in Klamath Falls. That mill closed down some years back and the equipment was sold off. The mill site is listed as for sale and is considered prime development property. A first right to water cemented in federal legislation would increased the value of the property. The property – which is adjacent to the Klamath Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant - contains about 120 acres and is listed by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality as a brownfield. Here’s a link to a photo of the site.
  • Reams  Golf and Country Club is located along Lake Ewana (Keno Reservoir) just South of Klamath Falls. It is an 18-hole course with a large clubhouse which it rents out for banquets.  Here’s how it describes itself on its website “Reames Golf and Country Club is a beautiful eighteen hole facility situated on over  200 acres just outside of the city limits  of Klamath Falls, Oregon, The City of Sunshine." And here's a photo image:

  • The Winema Hunting Lodge is a favorite for those who like to shoot ducks on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges. It is open to the general public; they even let birdwatchers stay there!. Here’s what it looks like:  

Contact information for these four “parties” as listed in the KBRA can be found at the end of this post. The information is provided in order to make it easier for journalists and interested citizens to investigate the extent of non-agricultural water use within the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Reclamation Project.  How much of the 300,000 to 400,000 acre feet of water that would be guaranteed to irrigators if the Deal gets through Congress is actually used to grow food? The public deserves to know; journalists covering the Klamath should do the investigation and disclose the results.

If the KBRA is enshrined in federal legislation these non-agricultural enterprises - a lumber mill, brownfield, golf course and hunting lodge - will get water BEFORE salmon. It means these developments will be among the last ones agencies, tribes, fishing and environmental organizations which sign the KBRA will be able to go to if fish need more water to prevent extinction….that is unless they bring cash to lease that water.

It is likely that there are many more non-irrigation entities which will receive water ahead of salmon if the KBRA is enshrined in federal legislation. For example, among dozens of irrigation districts listed as KBRA “parties” is the Enterprise Irrigation District (EID) which is located adjacent to the City of Klamath Falls. The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) describes this district as serving "suburban customers in the Klamath Falls area." As that city has expanded, the Enterprise Irrigation District has become home to housing developments and shopping centers. KWUA documents also reveal that Klamath Community College, founded in 1996, is one of EID's "suburban" customers. It is likely that Klamath River water received by the community college is uses primarily to keep its lawns green in the high dessert of Eastern Oregon.

How many of those non-agricultural developments will receive water ahead of salmon if the KBRA become the law of the land? That information is not readily available and so far no one in the press or the environmental community has pushed the Bureau of Reclamation to come clean with the answer.

But one thing you can count on: if legislation is introduced into Congress to lock in the KBRA’s water allocation scheme, expect to see large blow-up photos of these non-agricultural developments displayed in Congress. Promoters will attempt to sell the KBRA as a way to secure a peaceful future for farms and fish; blow up photos of the golf course, lumber mill, hunting lodge, brownfield, suburban housing and shopping developments will be used to discredit that argument.


Non-Agricultural Parties listed in the KBRA as “Related to Klamath Reclamation Project”

Collins Products, LLC:
Steve Metz
P.O. Box 16
6410 Hwy 66
Klamath Falls, OR,
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
Tel: (541) 885-4850

Modoc Lumber Company:
Thomas M. Shaw
P.O. Box 257
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
Tel: (541) 884-3177

Reames Golf and Country Club:
Laine Wortman, General Manager
4201 Highway 97 South
Klamath Falls, OR 97603
Tel: (541) 884-7205

Winema Hunting Lodge, Inc.:
R. David Bolls, III
43445 Business Park Drive, Suite 103
Temecula, CA 92590
Tel: (951) 699-6991 ext. 450


Glen Spain said...

Dear KlamBlog....

You are indeed correct that SOME non-agricultural developments around the historic water right perimeter of the federal Klamath Irrigation Project do receive some water from the Project, pursuant to federal water contracts going back many decades. This is a historical accident due to the fact that the Project ag lands boundary has changed over the years from its original area when the 1905 Bureau water right was first filed.

Since these are nonetheless WATER USERS of Klamath Project water supplies, it is therefore quite appropriate that they be brought under the future conservation constraints and limitations on the Project water rights that the KBRA will require for ALL Project contractors.

Your characterization of these non-ag businesses "getting water before salmon," however is just not correct. In fact, if they join the KBRA they will likely get LESS water than they currently might get so that the salmon will get MORE. Any water saved from irrigation has only one place to go -- downriver to the salmon.

The KBRA requires ALL Project water contractors -- including these businesses -- to live within a future "cap" of between 330,000 and 385,000 acre-feet. At the present, without the KBRA, that Project water right has no limit, and could theoretically include all the water in Upper Klamath Lake that does not have a higher priority right than 1905. And that is a LOT of water.

So in summary: bringing ALL federal Project water users, including these peripheral non-ag businesses, will help the salmon, not hurt them.

--- Glen Spain, for PCFFA

Felice Pace said...

Glen Spain is one of the chief promoters of the Water Deal and a frequent commenter on KlamBlog. He is quite persuasive but he does not always get his facts straight.

In this comment Mr. Spain makes the following claim:
"(KlamBlog's) characterization of these non-ag businesses 'getting water before salmon,' however is just not correct. In fact, if they join the KBRA they will likely get LESS water than they currently might get so that the salmon will get MORE."

This statement is very slippery; read it closely. In fact, in all years save one that the ESA has been protecting Coho Salmon, Ag and non-Ag water users within the federal Klamath Project have received LESS water than they will receive if Congress endorses the KBRA Water Deal.

Spain and other deal promoters want you to believe Klamath Salmon will do better under the KBRA than they are doing now. That point can be argued; but the fact is that the KBRA cuts Klamath River flows below what the ESA has provided.

As for the KBRA water conservation provisions Mr. Spain touts: He knows quite well that these irrigators have already received $50 million under the 2002 Farm bill and another $25 million in 2004 from taxpayers "to improve the efficiency and use of existing water supplies in the Upper Klamath Basin." (see

Mr. Spain also knows quite well that these taxpayer investments have done little to reduce the demand for Klamath River water. Most Ag and Non-Ag water users have used the assistance not to reduce their water use but rather to enhance it - including, for example, new pipes to allow Klamath Community College to keep its campus green in a desert.

Glen Spain said...

Dear KlamBlog ---

In reply to the comment on my original entry comment, by Felice, he may be surprised that I agree with him that, under the ESA alone, the Klamath Irrigation Project might get less water than under the KBRA in some years (absent whatever further restrictions come from the as yet undeveloped Drought Plan). But so what?

The KBRA neither changes nor modifies the ESA in any way, so as long as the ESA BiOp "minimum flows" remain a requirement, the Irrigation Project must meet them.

The KBRA is designed to work together WITH the ESA, not against it.

However, in other years (2009 for instance) the KBRA flows would have capped the Project's water diversions at LOWER amounts than the ESA, had it been in place. Thus the KBRA would clearly provide more water for fish than the ESA alone in some years.

Comparing one against the other, however, is irrelevant. The Project would get only the LOWEST of the two amounts -- KBRA and ESA.

It is simply incorrect to think of the two in "either-or" terms. For the forseeable future, both will be factors.

As to the other point raised in that comment: I doubt if the resort or other non-ag developments that are part of the Project's water system got any of the $50 million for agricultue complained of. But it can certainly be checked. Nonetheless, past failures of this sort should not prevent us from moving forward with water conservation programs in the future. Doing nothing is certainly not an option.

-- Glen Spain, for PCFFA

Felice Pace said...

In the previous comment Glen Spain says: "I doubt if the resort or other non-ag developments that are part of the Project's water system got any of the $50 million for agriculture complained of."

KlamBlog has checked it out: Here is the link to a document from the Klamath Water Users Association which identified projects planned for completion with 2004 federal taxpayer funds:

Included are the following projects quoted from the KWUA Report which clearly do not serve farmers:
--Pine Grove Irrigation District - this district, which serves suburban customers in the Klamath Falls area, proposes to install approximately 4,300 lineal feet of new piping.
-- Klamath Community College Piping Project

This does not include information on the $50 million supplied under the 2002 Farm Bill. Information on those projects are protected as "trade secrets" via language included in that Farm Bill. It seems that irrigation interests don't like the public seeing what they are doing with our (taxpayer) money!