Reclamation invests in new science updates for Klamath Project

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

For Release: July 29, 2020

The sun rising over upper Klamath Lake near Klamath Falls, Oregon.
The sun rising over upper Klamath Lake near Klamath Falls, Oregon.
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to inform Klamath Project operations. The project supplies water to more than 230,000 acres of irrigated farmland along the border between Oregon and California. Updated science will improve water supply forecasting, operations planning and modeling.

“We heard firsthand from the community on the best path forward to address longstanding water challenges,” said Commissioner Burman. “Reclamation is launching a fresh approach with an initial $1.2 million investment in applied science projects. These projects will improve our understanding of natural stream flows and the relationship between project operations and aquatic ecosystems in the Klamath Basin.”

“The Klamath Basin will benefit greatly from the Bureau of Reclamation’s investment in new science for the Klamath Project. I am grateful that Secretary Bernhardt, who recently visited the Basin, continues to look out for the farmers, ranchers, tribes and the surrounding community of the Basin,” said Congressman Greg Walden (OR). “This new funding will support science-based initiatives that will help get us closer to finding a solution for the Basin that benefits the farmers, fish and tribes. I look forward to continuing to work with Secretary Bernhardt and the Trump Administration on finding a solution to the decades old Klamath Basin Water Crisis, and I applaud their steadfast commitment to this issue.”

“Outdated science has contributed to year after year of water allocation problems for the farmers and ranchers in the Basin,”said Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA). “I’m grateful for Secretary Bernhardt and Commissioner Burman’s visit to the Basin earlier this month, and the resulting commitment to update the science that could provide incredible relief and more informed decision-making to the Klamath Basin for decades to come.”

Reclamation will begin several important science initiatives:

New Naturalized Flow Study. Update a 20-year-old assessment of stream flows to address shortcomings identified in the National Academy of Science’s 2004 and 2007 reviews, as well as incorporating more recent data.

Lake Level Science Update. Conduct focused evaluations of emerging science in partnership with the United States Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will improve the understanding of how Upper Klamath Lake elevations affect endangered sucker fish.

Flow/Habitat Relationships in the Klamath River. Evaluate contemporary methods of data collection and habitat modeling techniques to tailor a plan to better support habitat and water flow needs of juvenile Chinook and endangered coho salmon in the Klamath River.

Salmon Model Refinement. Refine a salmon survival model in partnership with the USGS and USFWS that will update the Stream Salmonid Simulator model, which is used to estimate juvenile salmon survival during their migration to the sea.

Salmon Disease and Hydrology Data Portal. Develop a process that will improve biologic data management on salmon disease in the Klamath Basin.

These new science initiatives will be conducted in collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders in the Klamath Basin.

“The activities announced will be helpful to all the stakeholders in the Klamath Basin, and we are committed to maintaining an ongoing dialogue,” said Deputy Regional Director Jeff Payne. “My hope is that the science process and the involvement by experts across Reclamation and additional input from stakeholders will result in some crucial, agreed-upon facts that are needed for decisions and will also focus future investments on the highest priority scientific needs.”

Visit https:https://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/programs/ops-planning.html for more information.

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