Reclamation releases Interim Operating Procedures and 2020 Operations Plan for the Klamath Project

Media Contact: Mary Lee Knecht, 916-978-5100, mknecht@usbr.gov

For Release: April 22, 2020

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The Bureau of Reclamation released the Interim Operating Procedures and 2020 Operations Plan for the Klamath Project today. The Klamath Project delivers irrigation water to approximately 230,000 acres in southern Oregon and northern California. The annual Operations Plan is based upon the expected hydrologic conditions from the April 1, 2020 Natural Resources Conservation Service inflow forecast and current reservoir elevations.

“We are having a very challenging water year,” said Klamath Basin Area Office Manager Jeff Nettleton. “We’ve had a dry fall, winter and spring, resulting in a low snowpack and significantly lower-than-average reservoir inflows. These conditions make it even more challenging than normal to meet all the water needs in the Basin. Reclamation deeply appreciates all of the stakeholders working together with us to meet the needs of our diverse communities through the Klamath Basin.”

The Interim Operating Procedures will be in place through spring 2023 while Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service complete a longer-term Endangered Species Act consultation and transition to a new water management plan. Reclamation released a draft Environmental Assessment for comments on April 1, 2020 and issued the final EA and Finding of No Significant Impact related to the Interim Operating Procedures today. The Interim Operating Procedures are consistent with the March 29, 2019 National Marine Fisheries Service Biological Opinion and the April 10, 2020 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion.

The 2020 Operations Plan outlines the annual Project water supply available to irrigators. The Plan provides increased water flows in the Klamath River for Endangered Species Act-listed coho, as well as Chinook salmon, and maintains Upper Klamath Lake elevations important for endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers.

As of April 1, the surface elevation of Upper Klamath Lake was 4,142 feet, which is equivalent to approximately 448,495 acre-feet of stored water. The NRCS April 1 forecast for inflows to Upper Klamath Lake from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020, is 290,000 acre-feet, which is about 60 percent of average inflow for this time period. Under these conditions, the Project supply from Upper Klamath Lake for the 2020 irrigation season is approximately 140,000 acre-feet. This volume is approximately one-third the historical irrigation demand of the Klamath Project.

Based on current water storage and projected inflows for Clear Lake and Gerber reservoirs, a full irrigation supply of 35,000 acre-feet is anticipated for the east side of the Project served from these reservoirs. The historical irrigation demand from Clear Lake and Gerber reservoirs is approximately 35,000 acre-feet each, with a range of up to approximately 40,000 acre-feet each.

Reclamation’s FONSI and final EA are available at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=42926. The Project’s 2020 Operations Plan is available at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/programs/ops-planning.html.

For additional information or assistance accessing the documents, contact the Klamath Basin Area Office at 541-883-6935.

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The Bureau of Reclamation is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of the Interior and is the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Our facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation opportunities, and environmental benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR; Facebook @bureau.of.reclamation; LinkedIn @Bureau of Reclamation; Instagram @bureau_of_reclamation; and YouTube @reclamation.