Klamath Basin irrigators, fish face dry year, officials say

Times Standard –

Anticipating a poor water year in California’s and Oregon’s Klamath River Basin, the federal government is seeking to find a way to balance its obligations to protect fish species while also ensuring Klamath Basin irrigators and water districts have access to water.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is now taking public comments on a proposal that would allow irrigators and water districts in the basin to use its Klamath Basin Project infrastructure, such as canals, to transport their private water should the project’s water supplies be constrained.

Hoopa Valley Tribe Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt said he met with officials from the bureau’s overseeing agency, the U.S. Department of Interior, last week. He said given the context of the poor precipitation so far and a federal court order last year requiring a new flow plan to protect fish on the lower Klamath River, the feds will be looking at any alternative possible to meet demands.

“They’re going to be really, really hard-pressed to meet the project water needs this year with the injunction in place and that’s just the reality,” Orcutt said Monday.

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