Water Released To Farmers In Klamath Basin


DATE: July 25, 2001

BACKGROUND: Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced July 24, 2001 that the federal government would release 75,000 acre feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake to farmers in the Klamath Basin Project. According to Norton, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has determined that the water level in the lake is higher than expected and therefore the extra water will be released as early as July 25. BOR had shut off water to the irrigation ditches earlier this spring to save the endangered sucker fish and threatened coho salmon.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: It's nice to see the administration recognizing the importance of family farms in the scheme of the Endangered Species Act.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: While the release of water may be too late for most farmers for this season, it shows that the administration recognizes the importance of the livelihood of its citizens in balance with nature. Now we need to take steps to amend the Endangered Species Act so people are considered as important as wildlife.

DISCUSSION: The amount of water to be released is about one sixth of the amount available to farmers during a normal season. Approximately 10,000 acre feet of water will be needed just to prime the canal system. (One acre foot of water covers one acre of land with water one foot deep.) Although the late release of water will not help most row crop farmers, it should provide enough moisture to livestock and wells and perhaps save alfalfa and hay crops, according to Norton.

Norton said that none of this water would make it downstream to the wildlife refuge where about 1,000 bald eagles over-winter.


by Gretchen Randall, Director of Energy & Regulatory Affairs, The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or GRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613