Rules for Conflict Resolution and the Klamath River Water Conflict
Educational Solutions High School Dialogue Project “Sharing the Klamath Watershed: Bringing Together the Next Generation of Stakeholders”
What is the Klamath Basin Anyway?
- A watershed is defined as a drainage basin
- Using this definition, the Klamath River Basin includes all land that drains water into the Klamath River.
Upper & Lower Klamath River Watershed
- Educational Solutions (ES) refers to the watershed of the entire Klamath River and its many tributaries as the Klamath River Basin or the Klamath River Watershed.
- The Upper River Watershed refers to the inland territory in Oregon and California, above Iron Gate Dam near Yreka, California
- The Lower River Watershed refers to the territory in California, from Iron Gate Dam to the Pacific Ocean, including the Trinity River and its tributaries
What is the Problem?
- Farms! need irrigation water
- Fish! need habitat
- Renewable Energy! people need power
- All compete for water OVER-PROMISED by the U.S. Government
Klamath River Watershed Stakeholders
- Farmers/ranchers: Klamath Project irrigators, Off Project irrigators, Shasta/Scott River irrigators
- Native Americans: Hoopa Tribe, Karuk Tribe, Klamath Tribes, and Yurok Tribes
- Commercial/sport ocean fishermen
- PacifiCorp (owns and operates 4 hydroelectric dams)
- Farmers need enough reliable water for irrigation of crops
- Native Americans, Fishermen and Conservationists need enough water for fish and wildlife
- PacifiCorp needs hydropower (water) to generate electricity
Timing is the Big Problem
The amount of Basin water changes with seasons
- In low water years, there is not enough water in late spring, summer, or early fall
- salmon spawn in spring and fall
- farms need reliable water to plant and harvest in spring, summer, and early fall
First Klamath River Disaster: Water Shortage
- 2001 Irrigation Water shut off to 1,200 Oregon and California Klamath Project Irrigators and Wildlife Refuges
Second Klamath River Disaster: Fish Die-off
- 2002 Well over 34,000 spawning salmon die in California Lower Klamath River impacting tribal fishing
Third Klamath Disaster: People’s livelihoods at stake
- 2006 Commercial salmon fishing virtually closed along 780 miles of Oregon and California coast because of low spawning returns to the Klamath River.
Competing Legal Claims to Water
- Native American Governments – Senior water rights OR: Klamath Tribes; CA: Hoopa, Karuk, Yurok
- Klamath Project – Water contracts and water rights
- Off-Project and Shasta/Scott farmers – Water rights
- Commercial Fishermen – Laws to protect fisheries
- Conservationists – Laws to protect wildlife refuges and endangered species (Endangered Species Act)
- Hydroelectric Dams operated by PacifiCorp – license to produce and sell power
Over-Promises Led to Costly Law Suits
- Different stakeholder groups had different legal claims to water
- US society changed over the last 50 years and Native American rights and species protection (Endangered Species Act – ESA) have become more influential than in the past.
- Different stakeholder groups sued each other and sued the government
- Blake, Tupper Ansel. Photo by Tupper Ansel Blake. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Essick, Peter. Photo by Peter Essick/Aurora/Getty Images. Retrieved from http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/phot/2007/06/26/PH207062601895.jpg
- Klamath River Basin map. Complied by Dr. Larry Dunsmoor and Carl Ullman
- Krisweb. Retrieved from http://www.krisweb.com/krisklamathtrinity/krisdb/html/krisweb/fish_kill.jpg