KLAMATH TRIBES OF OREGON PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- June 13, 2014
Don Gentry, Chairman, Klamath Tribes (541) 892-1433
Klamath Tribes and Irrigation Project Clarify Terms of Water Call:
Klamath Falls Wells Not Affected by Tribes’ Call
Chiloquin, Ore. – The Klamath Basin is facing one of the lowest water years on record, and concerns over water allocations and in-stream flows are already becoming apparent. Due to evidence of dropping water levels in several Upper Basin streams and lakes, earlier this week the Klamath Tribes placed a call for water. The call is necessary to increase in-stream flows in the Upper Williamson River, Lower and Upper Sprague River, the Sycan River and the Wood River, including their tributaries.
As confirmed in the 2013 Klamath Basin Adjudication ruling, the Klamath Tribes maintain time-immemorial water rights in the Upper Basin streams, Upper Klamath Marsh, Upper Klamath Lake and seeps and springs. When exercising a call on water, the Klamath Tribes have rights over flow levels in these systems to meet the Tribes’ treaty resource in-stream flow requirements.
“Both the Adjudication outcome and our recent negotiated settlement with Upper Basin irrigators supports our right to protect flows and levels in these systems on behalf of imperiled fisheries and aquatic plants important to our tribal members,” said Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry. “Our decision to make this water call was not made lightly; we understand the impacts it may have on our farming and ranching neighbors. Unfortunately, due to the extremely low water levels, we feel we must exercise our water rights to protect this important part of our Treaty rights and the resources essential to our tribal community.”
The 2013 Water Adjudication recognized water rights to the Klamath Basin Reclamation Project, under which their own recent call for water regulation arises. Unlike the Klamath Tribes, the Project’s call on water reflects water flows into Klamath Lake itself. As reported in today’s Herald and News newspaper, the Project’s call for water may impact the City of Klamath Falls’ ability to pump water out of two wells that fall within one mile of Upper Klamath Lake, although the Oregon Water Resources Department has reported that such well use for human consumption purposes will not be restricted. The Tribes’ call has no impact on the City of Klamath Falls.
The Oregon Water Resources Department is responsible for implementing any water shut-offs related to the calls made by the Klamath Tribes and the Klamath Project.