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Disaster, if not extinction
April 30, 2009
For the Karuk Tribe's Craig Tucker to insist that “farmers are giving up water” under the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) is to hide the reality of this deal. The NEC opposes the KBRA for many excellent reasons, with the lack of water for fish topping the list.
In 2001 farmers genuinely, though not voluntarily, gave up water. During that dry year the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation allocated only 75,000 acre feet of water to farmers in the Klamath Reclamation Project. This was to uphold the Endangered Species Act, which mandates adequate flows to protect Klamath salmon.
The next year, thanks to meddling by Vice President Dick Cheney, farmers received 400,000 acre feet of water. The result was the worst fish kill in U.S. history: 68,000 adult salmon went belly up in the Klamath.
Under the KBRA farmers in 2002 could have received even more than 400,000 acre feet of the Klamath River's flow: 340,000 acre feet outright from the river, as allowed under the KBRA, plus unlimited groundwater pumping, which would be subsidized by millions of dollars allocated by the KBRA. In the upper Klamath basin's porous soils, groundwater contributes significantly to in-stream flows.
Farmers are not giving up water. If they were they would have left the table long ago, saving more than $1 million in attorney fees.
The KBRA portends disaster, if not extinction. The NEC will not relinquish protections afforded salmon by the Endangered Species Act, which is what the KBRA is asking us to do.
Klamath Campaign Coordinator
Northcoast Environmental Center
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