In the Flow
District news & updates
10 September 2022 Update
By Lee Juillerat Sep 09, 2022 12:30 AM
The image above is of Upper Klamath Lake with 189,295 acre feet of stored water, some of which is being illegally diverted in violation of the Klamath Tribes, Klamath Project irrigators, and National Wildlife Refuge water rights. (Each water right is able to be reviewed by clicking on the name - See KA1000, KA1001, and KA1004 for water rights administered by K.I.D. See claims 312 and 317 for the Refuges water rights)

Klamath River Basin Adjudication Claim 294 (item D.1) states "a right to appropriate water from storage in Upper Klamath Lake for agricultural irrigation, stockwater and domestic uses...between the elevation of 4,143.3 and 4.136...with an estimated storage capacity of 486,830...the right of beneficial use of water is held by the beneficial users...this applies to the right to the use of live flow and stored water." See pages 44-45 of this document to review the claim. This language is specifically allowing storage of water for Klamath Project irrigators.

Read about the Klamath Tribes Water Right Claim 622 outlining minimum lake elevations by clicking here. These lake levels are junior to the rights administered by K.I.D. of KA1000 (1905), KA 1001 (1883 for Van Brimmer Ditch Company) and KA 1004 (1884)...but senior to most other water right holders. In previous newsletters I mistakenly said water was stored "for no other purpose", my words were unclear and misunderstood. There is no water right adjudication for any stored water but for agricultural purposes; however, creating minimum lake levels is a form of controlling storage. This does not change the fact that releasing stored water from Upper Klamath Lake without a water right to do so is theft and damages the Klamath Tribes, the Klamath Project, and the National Wildlife Refuges.

On 10 September 2022, something less than 500 cubic feet of water per second was flowing into Upper Klamath Lake from its tributaries and springs...even less when calculating evaporation on a 115 square mile body of open water and wetlands. While nearly 1,500 cfs of water was being released from Link River to the ocean without any water right to release stored water except for agricultural use. No water was being diverted for Klamath Project farmers, no water was made available to the Klamath Refuges under their water right, and the water the Klamath Tribes desire to remain in Upper Klamath Lake was being flushed out of the lake faster than it could flow in and evaporate...thus an illegal condemnation of property.

According to Reclamation's 2022 Operations Plan, this water was to be "borrowed" from PacifiCorps avoiding the illegal use of stored water from Upper Klamath Lake. No borrow occurred! No borrow with no water right/certificate/permit/license = theft & condemnation.
Klamath Project irrigators and Klamath Refuges, with claims to water stored in Upper Klamath Lake, were denied access to over 30,000 acre feet of water above the amounted needed to protect endangered C'waam and Kaptu. The Federal government condemned the property without due process.

That stored water is now being released through the Link River without a water right to do so while crops wither in the September heat and our refuges are dead.
Reclamation's 2022 Operations Plan states, "Reclamation will work with PacifiCorp to borrow likely 15,000 AF, but up to 20,000 AF of water from their hydroelectric project reservoirs downstream of UKL to assist with implementation of the late summer 2022 Yurok Tribe’s Ceremonial Boat Dance flow event. The borrowed water would be paid back so that PacifiCorp’s downstream reservoirs can be returned to normal operating levels. Details on the PacifiCorp pay back would be determined through further coordination and agreement between Reclamation, the Services, and PacifiCorp with agreements to be finalized prior to fall 2022"

No such borrow has occurred, and stored water (the property to rightful claims adjudicated by the Klamath Tribes, Klamath Project Irrigators, and the National Wildlife Refuges) is being released, without a water right, certificate, permit, or license to do so in violation of Oregon water law.

Empty Grocery Shelves Before They Became Empty

Chelsea Shearer | Ag in the Basin This photo is of a field that has been denied water due to government regulations.

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America's First Waterfowl Refuge is Dry

Aug 26, 2022 The Klamath Basin is dry! For the first time in history, America's first National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) established for waterfowl conservation purposes by Theodore Roosevelt is a barren wasteland. Millions of migratory waterfowl,...

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HOME | Ag in the Basin

A digital exhibition of photographs and narratives created by Klamath Basin agricultural families who took part in the Ag in the Basin Photovoice Project during the spring and summer of 2022. This year, a traveling exhibit will be displayed...

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Laws assist in ensuring domestic tranquility!
Ensuring domestic tranquility is a tenant of the U.S. Constitution!
Ruling invalidates injunction won by Klamath Irrigation...

The Oregon Court of Appeals has overturned a ruling that sought to stop the federal government from releasing water for fish to the detriment of irrigators. The appellate court has thrown out a lawsuit in which the Klamath Irrigation District won ...

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPTEMBER 8, 2022 Contact Information: Rich Deitchman (916) 835-7424 FEDERAL COURT CLOSES DOORS TO IRRIGATORS Today, the United States Court of Appeals issued a decision that denies Klamath Project...

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Klamath Irrigation District is currently reviewing these recent court decisions with our counsel to determine how to get our valid grievances addressed by an unbiased third party. First and foremost, the most basic function of a government is the ability to resolve disputes. This best occurs at the lowest level possible (at the family level). When the lowest level cannot resolve disputes, then a higher authority (clan, tribe, church, municipality) is the next logical step. Effective governance is not top-down driven. What the American people have been delivered today is the complete opposite of a government whose basic essential function is to resolve disputes which is a critical function to ensure domestic tranquility.

These disputes are long-standing and ripe for a resolution. With great disappointment, we have seen some of our neighbors publicly announced their pleasure in these decisions which undermine the foundation of our Constitution. Our nation's founders were clear to elaborate on the need for a system with established checks and balances; currently the Klamath Basin irrigators options are being narrowed to a very few, undesirable options. What happens to our Nation without the rule of law providing a non-biased third party to arbitrate disputes?
Klamath Irrigation District sued by real property water right holders
K.I.D. was served a petition for an alternate writ of mandamus to compel Klamath Irrigation District to perform its nondiscretionary duty under ORS chapter 545 and the Amendatory Contract between the United States of America and Klamath Irrigation District dated November 29, 1954, to deliver to Relators by issuing an order requiring Klamath Irrigation District to divert water from the Upper Klamath Lake for use by Relators’ for irrigation on their real property enjoying appurtenant water rights for irrigation on or before THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2022, or alternatively, appear and show cause as to why it should not.
Recent Recreation Activities on
Upper Klamath Lake
Morgan Murphy was on Upper Klamath Lake fishing with his sons around 28 August 2022. Other videos this year demonstrate the diversity of fishing, including the great Upper Klamath Lake rainbow and Redband trout.
Paddling Upper Klamath Lake brings bursts of birds

Howard Bay a gateway to isolated unit of national wildlife refuge As we unloaded our kayaks at the Howard Bay boat ramp, the midges and other bugs were ferocious, thousands of them weaving their way onto our clothes, hats, sunglasses, ears, neck...

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Contrary to the Klamath Tribes fisheries biologists claims on 25 August 2022, Lee Juillerat, Gary Vequist and Liane Venzke took paddle boats out into Upper Klamath Lake on 9 September 2002 describe their amazing visit in the following words,

"as we worked our way to open waters, the hordes of buzzing critters decreased and the lake, while never see-through-clear, was less cloudy.

We watched pelicans fly overhead, sometimes gliding just above us, other times back-flapping their wings as they slowed for lake landings, their feet skidding as they hit the water. Gulls in large mobs disconcertingly paddled away, then leaped skyward.

The best surprise was the sound as massive flocks of birds suddenly rose skyward in synchronicity from the lake, often a thousand or more at a time. We heard them before we saw them. The sounds they created were for a time confusing, like gusts of wind suddenly blowing through curtains. Only after watching closely did we realize we were seeing and hearing distant masses of birds taking flight."

Do you have ideas or solutions?
Maybe you have an idea for restoring wetlands, or a solution for the wildlife refuges. Perhaps you've been thinking about a response to a problem in the watershed above Upper Klamath Lake. Or maybe you know of a project or initiative that deserves recognition. Friends of the Klamath Basin Birding August issue is all about making our voices heard. If you would like to write an article let them know.

Outflows to Upper Klamath Lake over 100% of average --- Inflows around 25% of average

Despite natural conditions which would have pre-empted water flowing out of Upper Klamath Lake during dry periods such as we are currently experiencing, a great deal of water is being unnecessarily and unnaturally evacuated from the Klamath Basin into the Klamath River canyon below Keno.

Prior to the development of the Klamath Project, he natural Keno reef would have backed up any water coming out of Link River (highly unlikely given the current conditions) allowing no less than 188,000 acre-feet of water to evaporate from the Klamath River system in the Lower Klamath Lake removing this water from any available supply for down river use.

The natural lakes of Lower Klamath, Tule, TIngley, Spring, and the Lost River Slough covering over 188,000 acres combined would have evaporated no less than 3 acre feet of water per acre across the entire surface area. The fact that no less than 564,000 acre feet of water evaporated from these wetlands is ignored by hydrologists in their modeling of natural conditions. Water that would not have been available to the Klamath River canyon below Keno.

Under natural conditions these water bodies would evaporate significant amounts of water in July and August which in turn would naturally create localized weather events including thunderstorms and rain showers providing moisture in the area of the 2021 Bootleg fire and created cooler air temperatures around the basin...thus cooler water temperatures...thus later algae blooms.

Between 1 March and 30 September, no less than 407,400 acre feet will be released to the Klamath River canyon below Keno (well over 100% of average. Current estimates indicate on 335,000 acre feet of water will flow into Upper Klamath Lake during the same period; this does not account for losses to evaporation on the natural lake surface, thus further reducing the amount of water available.
Under natural conditions, when below average precipitation occurred, the Link River would routinely go dry with no water being released from Upper Klamath Lake. The conditions seen in 1903, 1911, and 1918 are not too dissimilar from the conditions seen between 1927 and 1938, and in 2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
The graph above shows the precipitation levels on a D4(dry) to W4 (wet) scale in Klamath County from 1895 through 1940. A mild D4 condition is noted in 1903; a short D2 period in noted in 1911, and conditions better than 2020 are noted for 1918...all years when the historical evidence shows no water flowed out of Upper Klamath Lake over the reef measured at 4,136.7' above mean sea level utilizing Reclamation datum in July and August.
The graph above provides insight to precipitation between 1995 and 2022.

Note 1920 is similar to 2021.
Note the period between 1928 and 1937 is worse than the conditions we have seen this decade...and worse than the 1918 record where the river was dry for a sustained period. If cycles repeat, the basin could be at the forward edge of a 1928 to 1937 drought period.

Remember...the Federal Government's current operations plan anticipates sending 407,400 acre feet of water to the ocean from Upper Klamath Lake during a period when only 335,000 acre feet of water is anticipated to flow into Upper Klamath Lake. If drought conditions continue, and the Interim Operations Plan does not change, there is no hope the lake will fill...there is less hope for maintaining unnaturally high lake elevations.

But for the Klamath Project farmers and ranchers paying for the storage of the water in Upper Klamath Lake, over the past 3 years there would be no water available to flush to the ocean over the Keno reef, nor enough to hold lake levels at 3.28' above the natural reefs allowing fish passage without risk of predation.
2022 Klamath Water Saga
-recap to date-
2022 started with the Tule Lake Sump 1A dry and devoid of water, wildlife, and common sense.

The policies in place indicated that the Tule Lake Sump 1B (the only remaining refuge with water in the Project area) would likely go dry unless policies were changed.

In March and April of 2022, the districts communicated with Reclamation staff proposals to manage Upper Klamath Lake to the 2019 Biological Opinion level for C'waam and Kaptu habitat recognizing the need to protect these species and to not take the lake to our stored water right of 4,136.0 (Reclamation datum) and to address anticipated issues on both the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges.

USFWS previously communicated the biological need for the C'waam and Kaptu as allowing the endangered fish to have over 3.23 feet of water above a natural reef allowing fish access to Pelican Bay.

Reclamation's 11 April 2022 Operations Plan communicated to the districts that our willingness to cooperated between facilitated the ability for us to manage the available water supply in Upper Klamath Lake down to an elevation of 4,138.15' allowing a 0.35' buffer to the USFWS biological opinion to mitigate pelican predation on the fish if they traversed the reef. This decision removed 23,812 acre feet of stored water from property right holders above the biological needs of the fish. However, the compromise allowed for the districts to take ownership and management of our local resources and show good stewardship of our limited resources.

On 25 April 2022 the three diverting districts provided Reclamation with a plan for how the districts would operate to 4,138.15 with an understanding if hydrology improved, it could be beneficial for the refuges while protecting the endangered lake species with no effect on any threatened species. Afterwards the Federal Government informed the districts the goal-post was a moving target and that something above 4,138.15 would be the end of season low for Upper Klamath Lake.

For the past 3 months, districts and other stakeholders have been engaging with Federal agencies to mitigate the impacts of this policy decision to our communities and attempt to identify solutions for our dying refuges.

On 22 July 2022, the Federal Government informed the districts that the UKL end of season elevation was assessed at 4,138.56. The Federal Government intended to send the remainder of all live flow and a significant amount of remaining stored water to the ocean before 30 September 2022 without a water right to do so and without consideration of the refuge needs.

Communication between the agencies and districts continued, the Federal Government began indicating higher lake levels were needed at 4,138.62. (an additional 32,268 acre feet taken from water lawfully stored for the sole purpose of irrigation), nearly 10 inches of water above the opinion

Anticipating no forward progress, K.I.D. attempted to honor agreements made between districts and following the 11 August meeting of the directors issued an update to its 2022 operations policy on 12 August.

Reclamation leadership suggested borrowing 10,000 acre-feet of water from PacifiCorps reservoirs to help offset the problem the Federal Government created. However, for this borrow to occur, the Federal Government demanded Klamath Drainage District to not divert its fall/winter water intended to reflood the former Lower Klamath Lake bed which would be the only habitat for water fowl near the Lower Klamath Lake refuges in the fall of 2022 and winter of 2023. As the Federal Government has initiated litigation against KDD, this option was not acceptable.

On 5 August 2022, the districts received a confusing communication from Reclamation. K.I.D responded when the letter was officially received on 15 August.

On 18 August 2022, the Federal Government issued an updated letter requesting the districts shut down within 30 hours.

Klamath Drainage District had responded to the Federal Government's 5 August letter just prior to the issuing of the 18 August letter and is currently awaiting a response.

Klamath Water Users Association immediately responded publicly on 18 August with a press release: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CALLS OFF FOOD PRODUCTION, SHUNS WILDLIFE, IN THE KLAMATH BASIN.

On 18 August 2022, K.I.D. received notice from the Federal Government requesting the closure of the A Canal. Find Reclamation's 18 August letter here. The Federal Government indicates it would like K.I.D. to cease diversions.

However, K.I.D. is legally obligated to deliver water to its patrons unless it is not able to do so. The information available to K.I.D. at the present time indicates there is still water available for K.I.D. to divert and we are not aware of any legal basis upon which we have any discretion to cease diversions.

Nothing presented to K.I.D. requesting the District to deny its patrons property indicates any foundation which protects K.I.D. from violating its legal and contractual obligations.

K.I.D. must also maintain the infrastructure to prevent damage. Allowing the canal levels to rapidly decrease will result in sluffing of the canal banks, thus weakening the structures. K.I.D. must take action to minimize the damage and retain the integrity of the canal banks by maintaining water levels allowing the canals to slowly empty; to do so before the fall rains will exacerbate problems created by the 2021 drought conditions. This would be a dereliction of our duty and unacceptable on any urban canal.

U.S. declares disaster for tribal salmon fisheries on...

For generations upon generations, the Yurok tribe has relied on Chinook salmon from the Klamath River in Northern California for ceremonies, subsistence and commercial gain. But in 2019, less than 40 percent of the usual number of salmon returned ...

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Funding Opportunities
Release No.: 2022-08-006
USDA Announces New Opportunities to Improve Nutrient Management
Historic funding from Inflation Reduction Act an unprecedented investment
in American agriculture
PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 17, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) welcomed the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which will deliver $19.5 billion in new conservation funding to support climate-smart agriculture.
This historic funding will bolster the new steps that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today to improve opportunities for nutrient management. NRCS will target funding, increasing program flexibilities, launch a new outreach campaign to promote nutrient management’s economic benefits, in addition to expanding partnerships to develop nutrient management plans. This is part of USDA’s broader effort to address future fertilizer availability and cost challenges for U.S. producers.
Through USDA’s conservation programs, America’s farmers and ranchers will have streamlined opportunities to improve their nutrient management planning, which provides conservation benefits while mitigating the impacts of supply chain disruptions and increased input costs.
Specifically, NRCS efforts include:
·        Streamlined Nutrient Management Initiative – A streamlined imitative will incentivize nutrient management activities through key conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), EQIP Conservation Incentive Contracts, and the Conservation Stewardship Program. The initiative will use a ranking threshold for pre-approval and include a streamlined and expedited application process, targeted outreach to small-scale and historically underserved producers, and coordination with FSA to streamline the program eligibility process for producers new to USDA. In addition to otherwise available funding at the state level, NRCS is targeting additional FY23 funds for nutrient management. NRCS is also announcing a streamlined funding opportunity for up to $40 million in nutrient management grant opportunities through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
·        Nutrient Management Economic Benefits Outreach Campaign – A new outreach campaign will highlight the economic benefits of nutrient management planning for farmers. The potential net savings to farmers who adopt a nutrient management plan is estimated to be an average of $30 per acre for cropland. It is estimated that there are 89 million acres of cropland (28% of total U.S. cropland) currently exceeding the nitrogen loss threshold; and if all those acres implemented a nutrient management plan, the average net savings would be $2.6 billion. NRCS staff develop nutrient management plans to help producers use nutrient resources effectively and efficiently to adequately supply soils and plants with necessary nutrients while minimizing transport of nutrients to ground and surface waters. Producer information is available at
·        Expanded Nutrient Management Support through Technical Service Providers Streamlining and Pilots – New agreements with key partners who have existing capacity to support nutrient management planning and technical assistance will expand benefits and serve as a model to continue streamlining the certification process for Technical Service Providers (TSPs). NRCS is also developing new opportunities to support partner training frameworks, nutrient management outreach and education, and new incentive payments through TSP partners for nutrient management planning and implementation. 
Alongside the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act provides once-in-a-generation investment in rural communities and their infrastructure needs, while also responding to the climate crisis. The bill invests $40 billion invest billions into existing USDA programs promoting climate smart agriculture, rural energy efficiency and reliability, forest conservation, and more. Approximately $20 billion of this investment will support conservation programs that are oversubscribed, meaning that more producers will have access to conservation assistance that will support healthier land and water, improve the resilience of their operations, support their bottom line, and combat climate change. This includes:
·        $8.45 billion for EQIP
·        $4.95 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
·        $3.25 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)  
·        $1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)
For more information and resources for nutrient management planning, visit Contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center to get assistance with a nutrient management plan for your land.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit
The mission of Klamath Irrigation District is to acquire, maintain, assure, and deliver an adequate water supply for beneficial use on qualified land with the Klamath Project. We represent our Patrons before government agencies, the legislature, Congress, and in such forms as appropriate for the perfection and protection of their water rights. 

We defend the District from actions which would diminish our effectiveness and function. 

We further promote the conservation of water, soil, and other natural resources.