NEWS WORTH NOTING: DWR to lower Lake Oroville levels; State Water Board 2018 Water Quality Status Report; Reclamation releases 2018 Klamath Project operations and drought plans, draft enviro docs for proposed water acquisition for Klamath wildlife refuges

DWR to lower Lake Oroville levels

From the Department of Water Resources:

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) [Friday] announced it will lower Lake Oroville water levels over the coming days to expand construction access to the upper chute of the main spillway, in order to meet the November 1 public safety construction deadline.

Construction activities on the upper chute of the spillway revealed bedrock conditions that require additional excavation. To accommodate the additional work and complete the main spillway construction by the November 1 deadline, crews require a second point of access to the upper chute through the radial gates.

DWR began increasing releases from the Hyatt Powerplant yesterday afternoon. Releases will increase to approximately 4,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to achieve the target lake level of 808 feet early next week.

As the lake level drops, some Lake Oroville boat ramp lanes will be inaccessible. DWR will provide additional updates regarding construction and recreation impacts next week.

State Water Board 2018 Water Quality Status Report

The California Water Boards’ Water Data Center is proud to present the California Water Quality Status Report. This report is an annual data-driven snapshot of the Water Board’s water quality and ecosystem data. This second edition of the report is organized around the watershed from land to sea. Each theme-specific story includes a brief background, a data analysis summary, an overview of management actions, and access to the raw data.

To view the Water Quality Status Report, go here: 2018 Water Quality Status Report

Reclamation releases 2018 Klamath Project operations and drought plans

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation has released two plans for 2018 operations of the Klamath Project. The Operations and Drought plans are based on current reservoir storage and anticipated hydrologic conditions based on the June 1 Natural Resources Conservation Service inflow forecast. The Operations Plan outlines water deliveries during the 2018 spring-summer irrigation season for more than 230,000 irrigated acres on the Klamath Project in southern Oregon and northern California. The Operations Plan also addresses flows required by the 2017 Court Order and the 2013 Biological Opinion on Klamath Project Operations, and is used by agricultural water users, Klamath Basin Tribes and National Wildlife Refuge managers as a planning and informational tool.

Due to Project water supply shortages this year, Reclamation is also releasing the 2018 Drought Plan, which outlines contractual obligations for distribution of the available Project water supply.

“This a very challenging water year, both hydrologically and due to the court requirements,” said Jeff Nettleton, Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office Area Manager. “The lack of snowpack this year, combined with legal obligations to mitigate disease risk in coho salmon in the Klamath River, has resulted in a stressful irrigation season for irrigators and the overall community. I appreciate the willingness of the entire community to work together to seek solutions to meet these challenges. Careful management of irrigation and continued water conservation efforts will help to minimize negative impacts of the reduced water supply as we proceed through the season.”

Due to court requirements and very dry conditions, the Project is starting normal operations later than usual. As of June 1, total precipitation in the Upper Klamath Basin was 80 percent of average with no snowpack remaining. Cumulative inflows to Upper Klamath Lake for the 2018 water year are below the historic 20th percentile. The Project allocation from Upper Klamath Lake for the 2018 spring-summer irrigation season is 233,911 acre-feet, 60 percent of a full supply of 390,000 acre-feet under the 2013 Biological Opinion. As of June 18, Reclamation has delivered approximately 38,000 acre-feet from Upper Klamath Lake, leaving 196,000 acre-feet for the remainder of the irrigation season.

Water supplies from Gerber and Clear Lake Reservoirs for the 2018 irrigation season are anticipated to be near a full supply, approximately 34,000 acre-feet from Gerber and 37,000 acre-feet from Clear Lake Reservoir. As of June 18, a volume of 10,080 acre-feet has been released from Clear Lake and 8,799 acre-feet from Gerber Reservoir. Out of those volumes, approximately 2,700 acre-feet were provided to the westside of the Klamath Project.

The Project’s 2018 Operations and Drought Plans are available at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/programs/ops-planning.html.

For more information, please contact Laura Williams at 541-880-2581 or ljwilliams@usbr.gov.

Reclamation releases draft environmental document for proposed water acquisition for Klamath wildlife refuges

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation has released a draft Environmental Assessment to disclose potential environmental effects and solicit public comment associated with a proposed water acquisition for National Wildlife Refuges within the Klamath Basin Refuge Complex.The Klamath Basin, similar to much of California and Oregon, had a prolonged dry winter. As of June 1 no snowpack remains in the upper basin, and the governors of California and Oregon have both declared a drought in the region. Drought conditions have limited the availability of water for the refuges in 2018. The constraints on water will reduce habitat and food sources for migratory birds in the Pacific Flyway as well as other wildlife.

Under the proposal, Reclamation could acquire up to 50,000 acre-feet of surface water supply from Klamath Project contractors for the benefit of migratory waterfowl and wetland-dependent wildlife in the refuges during the current drought year.

The draft EA was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and is available at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_base.php?location=kbao.

Comments are due by close of business, July 6, 2018. Please submit comments to Kirk Young via either email at byoung@usbr.gov or post to Bureau of Reclamation, 6600 Washburn Way, Klamath Falls, OR 97603.

Physical copies of the documents are available for review at Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office at the above address. For additional information or to request a copy of the documents, please contact Young at byoung@usbr.gov.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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