A Klamath County court case that could affect both endangered Lost River and shortnose sucker and the outcome of the irrigation season in the Klamath Basin has been moved from San Francisco to Portland, with a hearing date yet to be determined.
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
If all goes according to the latest plan, four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, which runs from southern Oregon to the northern California coast, would be removed in 2021. It’s the culmination of years of work in the Klamath Basin by a diverse group of stakeholders including tribes, state and federal agencies, farmers and ranchers and conservationists.
Water from Navajo Reservoir is staged at Cutter Reservoir before being shipped on the Navajo farmers, and (the reason for our visit) it’s also the holding tank for water to be delivered via the Cutter Lateral, a part of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman announced that fourteen tribes were selected to receive $1.9 million for technical assistance through the Native American Affairs Technical Assistance to Tribes Program. “Reclamation is committed to working with tribes on water management issues,” Commissioner Burman said.
This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future.
“The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday weighed in to support the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in its lawsuit against two water districts, backing the tribe’s claims that the local agencies are infringing upon its rights by over-pumping groundwater from the Coachella Valley’s aquifer.”
“Some southern Oregon ranchers will have to reduce or completely shut down irrigation in the parched Upper Klamath Basin this summer as a result of a historic assertion of water rights by other users in the region.
On Monday, several groups, including the Klamath Tribes and irrigators in the federal Klamath Project, made formal calls for water, asking Oregon to enforce rights they won earlier this year.”