Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement–Terminated

Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement–Terminated

This agreement was terminated on December 28, 2017. The Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement was premised in key part on federal funding being provided for certain actions under the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).  The KBRA terminated on December 31, 2015 because the federal authorizing legislation was not enacted.

Background

Upper Klamath Basin irrigators, the Klamath Tribes, and officials from Oregon and several Federal agencies signed a final Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement (UKBCA) on April 18, 2014. The agreement included:

• A Water Use Program that would increase inflows into Upper Klamath Lake at an annual average of at least 30,000 acre feet by reducing water use in key reaches of the tributaries above the lake, while also providing a stable, sustainable basis for the continuation of irrigated agriculture;

• A Riparian Program designed to permanently improve and protect riparian conditions;

• An Economic Development Program designed to create economic opportunities for the Klamath Tribes and its members, and including increased opportunities for the exercise of Tribal cultural rights; and

• A transition program while the permanent elements of the agreement were being put in place.

Summary of Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement Accomplishments

During the implementation of the agreement the parties made significant progress on implementation:

• A Landowner Entity was formed to work with landowners to implement the water use and riparian programs; it was comprised of irrigator representatives from each of the major basins above the lake.

• The parties formed a Joint Management Entity (JME) to oversee implementation of the agreement. The JME was comprised of representatives from the Klamath Tribes, the Landowner Entity, and the state of Oregon (formal participation by federal entities required passage of the Federal legislation). These parties established bylaws and other administrative provisions.

• The Landowner Entity had developed a ledger for tracking acres and acre feet of participation in the Water Use Program (WUP). The initial 2014 target for participation was 5,000 acre feet of increased instream flows. The final WUP ledger recorded 5,278 acre feet participating in the WUP. The Landowner Entity had secured letters of interest for the riparian program from landowners representing 66 percent of the eligible river bank miles of habitat; the initial target was 50 percent.

• The Landowner Entity and the JME were working to develop the detailed permanent agreements for the water use and riparian programs.

• The parties were implementing the monthly specified instream flows (SIFs), and irrigators had been cooperating among themselves to rotate water use so that the monthly flow levels were met.

• Funding for the water use program came from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board; the funding was sufficient to continue existing agreements through the 2016 water year. Passage of the Federal legislation and funding was needed to continue scaling up the program in 2017.

• Oregon, USGS, and the Klamath Tribes were working on the siting and installation of gauging stations to measure stream flow at the various SIF locations.

• Oregon provided information on water right transfers and leasing since the baseline year of 2001 and was preparing to receive and process instream lease and transfer applications as part of the agreement.

• Oregon had adopted new groundwater rules that clarify when groundwater will be regulated to protect senior surface water rights.

See more on the Upper Basin Agreement in the KBCC Fifth Annual Report and get copies of the Agreement or the summary.