News Release Archive

Reclamation Announces Flows from Iron Gate Dam to Increase on Wednesday, February 9

Media Contact: Pete Lucero, 916-978-5100,
Kevin Moore, 541-880-2557,

For Release: February 07, 2011

The Bureau of Reclamation announces increased flows on the Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam located just east of the town of Holbrook, California, on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. The releases will focus a high pulse of water needed to benefit coho salmon, followed by a reduction in flows that will allow Upper Klamath Lake to remain on track to fill. The flows will ramp up from 1,600 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 5,000 cfs for approximately 6 hours and then slowly ramp down to 1,300 cfs. Reclamation is advising everyone down river to be aware of the temporary rise in flows. The most significant increase in river flows is just downstream of Iron Gate Dam and is expected to occur from noon to midnight on Wednesday.

The timing and magnitude of the increased flows, which are required by the 2010 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Biological Opinion, were recommended by a technical team consisting of biologists and hydrologists with NMFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Reclamation, PacifiCorp and Tribes. Consultation with the technical team is a requirement in the Biological Opinion and is also consistent with the framework provided by the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

"The Klamath agreements are supposed to ensure collaborative communication, with all stakeholders reaching a balanced outcome that considers the complex needs of energy customers, agriculture, fish and the environment," said Dean Brockbank, PacifiCorp's lead Klamath settlement negotiator. "That outcome has been achieved here and points to the strength of the settlements as the most productive path forward for balancing the many competing demands on Klamath basin resources." An additional outcome of this collaborative process to reach agreement on an operations plan is PacifiCorp withdrawing its previously filed dispute resolution notice under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

"The Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement worked to perfection and allowed for the outcome reached today," said Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor. "The KHSA was designed to allow for parties to seek dispute resolution when they believe there are issues that need to be addressed, and PacifiCorp utilized these provisions to make sure we all have a common understanding on how operations changes may affect PacifiCorp's interests. Having resolved these issues, our settlement agreement is as strong as ever," added Connor.

"Reclamation is proactively managing the Klamath Project system, and with the tremendous amount of cooperation with the parties involved, water will be used to maximize benefits to salmon downstream while at the same time allow Upper Klamath Lake to remain on track to fill for the benefit of our project irrigators including the National Wildlife Refuges," said Jason Phillips, Reclamation's Klamath Basin Area Manager. "Given the current lake levels, which are 2.5 feet higher than this time last year, along with the best available inflow forecast from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, I am confident that we will have the lake as full as possible for this time of the year, and we are on track to fill the lake on or before April 1, 2011," stated Phillips.

"Flexibility is important to all of us and we understand that this action is intended to provide downstream fisheries benefits while also being protective of the Klamath Project's water supply as we move into the irrigation season," stated Greg Addington, Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director.

"We need to do all that we can to help coho, and we're really pleased that the Tribes, PacifiCorp and the federal agencies could work together to provide that help," said Chuck Bonham, Trout Unlimited California Director.

"We believe this temporary increase in flows will help flush out the fish disease causing parasites from below Iron Gate Dam. We appreciate the willingness of the agencies and PacifiCorp to work with the Tribes to implement this plan. We hope that implementation of the Klamath agreements will provide a more permanent solution to the disease problem through dam removal," said Craig Tucker, Ph.D., Klamath Coordinator for the Karuk Tribe.

"We appreciate the multi-partner cooperation associated with developing and implementing a flow variability program this winter which we expect to provide benefits to coho salmon and other salmonids," said Irma Lagomarsino, NOAA Fisheries Service, Arcata Area Office Supervisor. "The flow variability team has worked effectively together and will monitor the program so we can better understand the influence of pulsed flows on the incidence of fish disease in the Klamath River," she added.

"We anticipate the increased flow event will provide immediate benefits to the threatened coho while maintaining adequate lake levels for endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake," said Laurie Sada, Field Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Klamath Falls office. "The Service appreciates the collaborative efforts of all parties involved to manage water in a way that maximizes meeting the needs of fish and farmers."

For additional information, please contact Kevin Moore, Bureau of Reclamation, at 541-880-2557 or e-mail

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