KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. –Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a boost in water supply for Klamath Project contractors, and confirmed higher lake levels for endangered sucker fish as well as larger releases from Upper Klamath Lake to benefit salmon. Initial water supply allocations for Klamath Project contractors along with a total of $13 million for drought resiliency, ecosystem enhancement, technical assistance to Tribal Nations, and groundwater monitoring in the Klamath project were announced on April 13.
Based on improved spring hydrology and updated forecasts, water supply allocations from the Upper Klamath Lake increased from 215,000 acre-feet to 260,000 acre-feet. Allocations from Gerber Reservoir and Clear Lake Reservoir remain at 35,000 acre-feet from each reservoir. The updated 2023 allocations are based on analysis of existing hydrologic conditions and inflow forecasts from the California Nevada River Forecast Center and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“With the improved hydrologic conditions, we are thankful more water is available to meet the needs of Klamath Basin communities while also meeting the needs of endangered species,” said Reclamation Regional Director Ernest Conant. “Although we are not seeing a return to normal expectations for snow and rain, we are pleased that conditions are on the upswing after three consecutive years of extreme drought.”
Improved hydrologic conditions also allows for an increase in the volume of water available to benefit salmon. Known as the Environmental Water Account, that water supply will be increased from 400,000 acre-feet to 462,000 acre-feet. Additionally, the augmentation flows that provide supplies above the Environmental Water Account for salmon will be increased to the full 60,000 acre-foot volume allowed under the Interim Operations Plan.
Reclamation is on target to meet U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion-specified Upper Klamath Lake elevations minimums throughout Water Year 2023 to promote habitat for sucker rearing and spawning. This includes managing to an end-of-season 4,139.2-foot minimum as a means of guarding against shortfalls to ESA requirements into the fall and winter that may occur as a result of a continuation of the current extreme, multi-year drought. As in years past, Reclamation will restrict the eligibility for the financial assistance announced April 13 based on non-compliance with Reclamation's operations plan and related directives.
For more information about Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office’s work to manage and protect water and related resources in Klamath Basin communities, and Klamath Project hydrologic and operations updates visit https://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao or contact the Klamath Basin Area Office at 541-883-6935 (TTY 800-877-8339).