Reclamation to increase water releases to Klamath River today to address fish health concerns
Increased flows to begin this afternoon and continue through Monday; Public urged to take safety precautions on or near the river while flows are high
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – This afternoon [April 6, 2018], the Bureau of Reclamation will increase flows below Iron Gate Dam to reduce the risk of disease for coho salmon in the Klamath River. Beginning late this afternoon, flows below Iron Gate Dam will increase from approximately 1,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 6,030 cfs. Increased releases will continue for 72 hours through Monday, April 9. The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high during this period.
On February 8, 2017, United States District Judge William H. Orrick ordered Reclamation to annually provide surface flushing flows of 6,030 cfs below Iron Gate Dam.
The increased flow event is consistent with Judge Orrick’s Order and was planned in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley, and Klamath Tribes, Klamath Project water users, and PacifiCorp.
Reclamation is implementing the increased flow event now to take advantage of the current and anticipated hydrologic conditions throughout the Klamath Basin. Pairing this managed flow at Iron Gate Dam with naturally high tributary flows this weekend maximizes the potential benefits and effectiveness of the event while reducing the amount of water required out of Upper Klamath Lake. This will minimize the potential for negative impacts to the water supply and endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers in Upper Klamath Lake.
“Reclamation is working hard to balance the available water to meet the many competing needs of the Klamath Basin. Every acre-foot of water is valuable and is in limited supply. We are doing everything we can to minimize disease among Klamath River salmonid species while meeting the requirements necessary to protect suckers in Upper Klamath Lake,” said Klamath Basin Area Office Water Operations Chief Jared Bottcher.
After Monday, flows will ramp down and return to levels calculated in accordance with the 2013 Biological Opinion on operations of the Klamath Project.
Reclamation will continue to work with National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other fisheries experts and Klamath Basin stakeholders to comply with the Order and applicable provisions of the Endangered Species Act while upholding contractual obligations to Klamath Project water users.