Sept 7 – 7:43 pm Pacific Time – Klamath River Dam Removal Scam – Siskiyou County & The Klamath River Basin News – Water for fish & wildlife, cash for irrigators
This is starting to come together: The Klamath River Dam Removal Scam!
Water for fish & wildlife, cash for irrigators
By HOLLY DILLEMUTH H&N Staff Reporter, Aug. 26, 2018
The Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to reimburse the Drought Response Agency for water given to the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge at a rate of $360 per acre feet of water.
The terms and conditions for the rate are part of a 13-page contract that the 2018 Klamath Project Drought Response Agency approved Wednesday, during a roughly four-hour public meeting with Reclamation officials. Negotiations with Reclamation about the contract have been ongoing for months, according to Nathan Ratliff, legal counsel for the agency.
“The Bureau is taking the position that the water needs to be applied in a fashion that provides a wildlife benefit,” said Ratliff which he said justifies Reclamation’s compensation to eligible irrigators for that water.
The water for fish and wildlife benefit is the only path that the agency could take without having to take a loan from the federal government, according to DRA board member Jerry Enman.
“I hope it works the way it’s intended to,” Enman said.
Those who could benefit from compensation would likely be those who have had to resort to pumping groundwater or who’ve idled land during the drought, Ratliff said.
Property that has been idled all summer must be idled for the rest of the year to qualify for funds, according to Enman.
“The difficult part is those things have already happened, as opposed to a plan that could’ve already been put in place in the spring, we’re kind of looking backwards, and that makes everybody’s job more difficult,” Ratliff said.
After the DRA identifies the water that would go to the local refuges and it’s been made available to do so, the DRA will start the process of asking for individuals to claim that they are eligible for funding.
The agency will work with Fish and Wildlife to identify upwards of 26,335 acre feet of water that could benefit the refuge, where botulism in birds has been occurring due to drought conditions.
“We have to provide this water between now and the end of the year to the refuge,” Ratliff said. “And then that water is going to be compensated at the $360 acre-foot level, and then somewhat independent of that, the money’s going to be distributed to the irrigators that have been affected over the course of the year.”
The Drought Response Agency was formed at the direction of the Bureau of Reclamation for the purpose of initially delivering $10.3 million from the fedeeral Omnibus bill to eligible irrigators.
“Some of that money went to irrigators that are to the east of Olene — the east side,” Ratliff said. “That was approximately $800,000 that was going towards them. That was a similar type of agreement.”
What’s left is $9.4 million that will be used to pay for up to 26,335 acre feet of water used for the refuges.
The agency will meet with Reclamation officials this week to identify water that will likely be provided to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
Some conditions to qualify for funding are contained in the contract that the DRA approved, but some conditions are not finalized at this time.
“We wanted the money to be unrestricted but that’s the way that the process came out,” Ratliff said.
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