Monday December 6, 2021

Herald and News

After a summer spent drying up, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge finally began receiving a measurable flow of water, thanks to the start of the winter irrigation season on December 1. The refuge can receive up to 11,000 acre-feet of water between December and February depending on how Upper Klamath Lake is filling.

Water began flowing into the refuge’s Unit 2 wetland through the Ady Canal on Wednesday and was flowing at around 60 cubic feet per second at 5 p.m. Friday. It was the only significant inflow to the refuge since last winter other than roughly 750 acre-feet transferred from the Wood River Valley by the California Waterfowl Association in September.

However, 2021’s disaster of a water year continues to wreak havoc on Water Year 2022. In August, the Bureau of Reclamation had to ‘borrow’ 9,300 acre-feet from the flow of the Klamath River to stabilize the only remaining wetland unit on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The agency must now pay that water back to Iron Gate and Copco Reservoirs, which were drawn down to facilitate the transfer while keeping lake levels and Klamath River flows in line with Endangered Species Act requirements.

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