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Mon May 3, 2021, 07:32 PM

Klamath water diversion to farming 'unlawful'

The federal government is strictly curtailing irrigation this year in an attempt to protect endangered fish important to Indigenous tribes. Farmers say this will make it all but impossible to farm, while tribal nations say the plan doesn’t go far enough to save their fisheries.

In mid-April, a farming region in southern Oregon began to release water from the Klamath River into its irrigation canals. According to the local water authority, this was a standard move to jumpstart the farming season during one of the driest seasons in recent memory. But according to the federal government, it was an illegal maneuver that could further jeopardize the survival of multiple endangered species and food sources important to Indigenous tribes and fisheries in the region.

Because of severe drought conditions in the region and low snowpack levels, the Upper Klamath Lake — a large, natural reservoir of freshwater that drains into the Klamath River — has experienced historically low inflow this year. That means there’s not enough water to go around for everyone who needs it: tribes that depend on the lake to sustain culturally important species of suckerfish, commercial and tribal fisheries downstream who depend on flow from the lake to support salmon populations, and farmers and ranchers who rely on irrigation to harvest crops.

On April 14, the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), a federal agency that oversees the Klamath irrigation project, announced that farmers would only get 33,000 acre-feet of water this year due to drought conditions — the lowest allotment in its history. The project spans from southern Oregon to northern California. For context, farmers say they need 400,000 acre-feet in drought years. That didn’t stop the Klamath Drainage District (KDD) in southern Oregon — a public entity contracted to deliver water in the region — from turning on the spigot for its constituents two days later.

Read more: https://www.hcn.org/articles/water-klamath-water-illegally-diverted-to-farming-during-severe-drought
(High Country News)

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Reply Klamath water diversion to farming 'unlawful' (Original post)
TexasTowelie May 2021 OP
WheelWalker May 2021 #1

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Tue May 4, 2021, 05:04 PM

1. Pacta sunt servanda

Tribes in the Klamath Basin have federal water rights for lands that tribes have occupied since time immemorial that are accorded a priority date of time immemorial and are known as aboriginal water rights. United States v. Klamath & Moadoc Tribes, 304 U.S. 119 (1938); United States v. Adair, 723 F.

Irrigators' competing claims to surface water in the Klamath River Basin, as against the tribes aboriginal and vested treaty rights, is determined by the Klamath River Basin Adjudication.


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