Klamath Project irrigators have filed lawsuits challenging new federal limits on water supplies.
Tricia Hill of the Klamath Water Users Association believes a new biological opinion sets aside too much water for endangered fish. “Quit using the Klamath Project as a button you can push to try to protect species – because we’ve been doing it for two decades, and we’re not having a recovery.”
A separate suit was filed by the Klamath Irrigation District.
“It does disagree with the biological opinion.” Explains District Manager Gene Souza. “In that the water allocation is managed by the federal government, versus allowing the project owner to manage the water for the benefit of the community.”
Hill points out the maximum allocations for irrigators have been dwindling. “We’ve been ratcheting down how much water is considered a full supply under the biological opinions over the last decade.”
In 2005, the maximum allocation from Upper Klamath Lake to the Klamath Project was 450 thousand acre feet of water.
That dropped to 390 thousand acre feet a few years later, and now stands at 350 thousand acre feet.
“That is significantly less than the historic average for this Klamath Project.” Notes Souza. “Which I calculate to be about 415 thousand acre feet of Project need.”
Both the irrigation district and the water users say they want a more active role in development of the biological opinion.
Hill believes the allocation should better reflect conditions. “We’re finally to the point where even with 130% of snow pack, and 100% of precipitation, we don’t have enough water for all of our farms in the basin.”
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.