Reclamation’s Klamath Decision and its CVP Harm


August 22, 2014
For More Information, Please Contact: 
RONALD D. JACOBSMA, GENERAL  MANAGER Office:  (559) 562-6305  or  Mobile:  (559) 799-0700

Reclamation’s Klamath Decision and its CVP Harm

Statement by
General Manager, Friant Water Authority

Today the Department of the Interior has again chosen to have the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation utilize Central Valley Project water for a speculative benefit to a fish population in the Klamath river system, which is outside of the CVP, while seemingly disregarding the serious social and environmental consequences this policy decision will have in the Central Valley. This wholly unacceptable action is beyond inflammatory to the Friant Water Authority, its member agencies, the Friant Division’s small family farmers and growers, the cities that are dependent on Friant water, and the other water users who pay for the operation of the CVP’s infrastructure and have been denied any water supply allocation this year. Additionally, water and power contractors are waiting to hear how the lost water supplies and power generation will be made up for these actions this year as well as last year.

Reclamation has now chosen to take emergency actions to allow for releases from the Trinity River to the Klamath River system even though last spring Reclamation steadfastly refused to take emergency actions to avoid the known water supply impacts of regulatory requirements imposed on CVP operations to the people of the Valley. This discretionary action appears to be inconsistent with Reclamation’s contractual obligations to its Central Valley Project contractors. Additionally, when water users requested releases from Shasta this summer to meet critical water needs, Reclamation informed the water users that flows and temperature requirements for Sacramento River salmon precluded such releases. Now it appears such water is available to move to another river system without impact. That is inconsistent on its face. As a result, a Central Valley economic catastrophe continues to unfold as fields are fallowed, orchards are torn out, irrigation and domestic wells are going dry and small family farms face financial hardship. Social and environmental impacts such as increased risk of Valley fever, loss of honeybee colonies and diminished air quality due to topsoil loss, are also occurring.

Again this year, the fishery water management plan for the Trinity River – largest tributary of the Klamath River and an important source of CVP water – did not include contingency water for fall flow requirements. CVP agricultural and urban contractors efficiently and effectively manage water supply allocations whereas it appears environmental water management is not held to the same level of accountability.

We need common-sense water management and efficiency to be applied to all environmental uses. Poor decisions such as this have caused the Friant Division to this year receive ZERO percent of its contract supply for the first time in more than 60 years. These are all indicators of the need for the House-Senate conference now under way in Congress to reconcile the bills each house has passed into one measure that truly restores balance to Central Valley Project operations. Federal agencies cannot continue to ignore the known damage they are causing to the people, economy and environment of the Central Valley.

The Friant Water Authority is a public joint-powers agency representing 21 water agencies that deliver Central Valley Project water from the Friant Division. The Friant Division consists of 15,000 mostly small family farms on 1.2 million acres along the southern San Joaquin Valley’s East Side. The Authority operates and maintains the Friant-Kern Canal for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

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