2021 Klamath Project Water Year Timeline

January – April

  • Reclamation held four meetings with Tribal representatives, Klamath Project water users, the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (collectively, the Services), NGOs and other entities to provide hydrologic updates and solicit feedback on 2021 operations.

April 1, 2021

  • NRCS March 1 forecast of 430,000 acre-feet of inflow to Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) from March-September is reduced to 305,000 acre-feet as of April 1. 

April 14, 2021

  • Reclamation distributed news release announcing:
    • The release of the 2021 Temporary Operations Plan (TOP). The TOP was developed in coordination with NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tribes, and Klamath Project water users.
    • An initial allocation of 33,000 acre-feet was announced [based on Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) April 1, 2021 forecast] and provisions in the TOP provided operational guidance on UKL lake elevation and Klamath River (KR) flow management.
    • $15 million in drought relief to the Klamath Project through the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (KPDRA) plus an additional $3 million in technical assistance to Tribes for technical assistance. 

May 1, 2021

  • Drought conditions worsened; NRCS’s May 1 forecast for Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) (inflow showed 85,000 acre-feet below what was reported on April 1.

May 12, 2021

  • Reclamation distributed news release announcing:
    • Diversions not authorized by Reclamation used most of the 33,000 acre-feet allocation.
    • The A Canal will remain closed for the 2021 irrigation season due to lack of sufficient water supply to safely and effectively operate the canal.
    • A surface flushing flow for salmon would not be implemented in 2021.

June 18, 2021

  • Reclamation informed Klamath Project irrigators that none of the initial 33,000 acre-feet allocation will be available for the irrigation season.

July 16, 2021

  • $15 million funding agreement between Reclamation and the KPDRA was executed.

July 17, 2021

  • The Department of the Interior distributed note to media announcing Reclamation’s $15 million cooperative agreement with the KPDRA to distribute drought relief funds to Klamath Project irrigators in Oregon and California.

August 5, 2021

  • Reclamation in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with support from Tulelake Irrigation District took action to protect wildlife die-off in Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge:
    • Reclamation requested PacifiCorp utilize storage from Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs to meet KR flow requirements, allowing for deliveries to Tule Lake Sump 1B.
    • Reclamation, over the course of 4.5 weeks delivered around 9,300 acre-feet, resulting in 1.69 feet of additional depth in the sump which:
      • Provided adequate depth for sucker fish
      • Prevented an avian botulism outbreak

June – September

  • Consistent with the adjusted TOP, Reclamation provided weekly updates to Tribes and Services to discuss whether deviations from minimum UKL elevations and KR flows were necessary. No deviations occurred.

July – August

  • Reclamation assisted Oregon Water Resources Department in transporting water tanks to homes with wells that ran dry due to continued drought conditions reducing available ground water.

September 27, 2021

  • Reclamation informed Klamath Project irrigators that water is still not available at the end of the season, allowing UKL to better position itself to better meet the all the water needs of the Klamath Basin in 2022.
  • 2021 end of season water delivery summary to Klamath Project:
    • No diversions were authorized from UKL
      • Over 31,000 acre-feet in out of priority and unauthorized diversions occurred from UKL
    •  23,000 acre-feet were delivered from Clear Lake reservoir and 32,000 acre-feet from Gerber Reservoir

October 1, 2021

  • Reclamation transitions Klamath Project operations from the adjusted TOP back to the Interim Operations Plan.
  • UKL elevations exceeded Endangered Species Act UKL lake minimums by approximately 0.5 feet.

October 5, 2021

  • Reclamation distributed news release announcing:
    • Increase in drought funding to $20 million available for Klamath Project irrigators impacted by the unavailability of water supply during the 2021 irrigation season.
    • KPDRA will distribute funds on a per acre basis to applicants in late 2021.
    • Application forms and other information on how to access drought relief programs can be found at www.klamathwaterbank.com.

November 15, 2021

  • Reclamation distributed news release announcing:
    • $2.7 million in funding for activities and projects to enhance survival and recovery of coho salmon in the Klamath River Basin.
    • The 2021-2024 Klamath River Coho Restoration Grant Program will be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with coordination from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
    • Eligible applicants include local, state, federal, and tribal governments and agencies; special districts; non-profit organizations; schools; and universities. Information on grant program and how to apply can be found at https://www.nfwf.org/programs/bureau-reclamation-klamath-coho-habitat-restoration-program.

    Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Last Updated: 8/24/22