Water sent to Lower Klamath NWR through Tule Lake Tunnel

TULELAKE, Cal.- The Tulelake Irrigation District turned on Pumping Plant D on March 25th, sending water from the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge through the Tule Lake Tunnel to the Lower Klamath NWR for the first time in four years.

According to the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA), Pumping Plant D operated continuously for close to 70 years as the primary water source for Lower Klamath NWR. But regulatory restrictions on water availability for the Klamath Project prevented water from pumping through the tunnel.

Brad Kirby,¬†Manager of the Tulelake Irrigation District (TID), says there’s been a lack of water in the Klamath Project, which wouldn’t allow TID to maintain the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath NWRs. Draining these lands meant habitat for animals like waterfowl and fish was decimated. He says this year, there was finally enough water from this winter to refill the sumps. But he says it’s going to take work to maintain it.

“If we don’t change, if we don’t figure out a way to work together and figure out how to keep water in the system, keep water in the sumps, keep water in Lower Klamath and flowing through D Plant,” Kriby said, “this place, this vibrant, wildlife area that’s near and dear to my heart will just continue to shrivel”.

Kirby says when water is flowing from Tule Lake to Lower Klamath, the National Wildlife Refuges have a pulse. The KWUA says besides helping wildlife, this process will also help recharge groundwater, decrease dust and provide relief from a grasshopper outbreak.

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NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
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