The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with PacifiCorp, plans to increase flows below Iron Gate Dam to reduce the risk of disease for coho salmon in the Klamath River.
Beginning April 22, flows below Iron Gate Dam will increase from about 1,325 cubic feet per second up to 6,000 cfs. Increased releases out of Upper Klamath Lake will occur simultaneously. The highest releases, of up to about 6,000 cfs, will continue for 72 hours. Flows will ramp back down to normal by May 1.
Reclamation is implementing the increased flow event as analyzed in the National Marine Fisheries Service’s 2019 Biological Opinion and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2020 Biological Opinion. The flushing flow has been coordinated with other Klamath Project operations to minimize the potential negative impacts on Upper Klamath Lake elevations and the endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers.
After the peak releases, flows will ramp down and return to levels calculated in accordance with the Interim Operations Plan and the services’ Biological Opinions. Reclamation says it will continue to work with NMFS, USFWS, other fisheries experts and Klamath Basin stakeholders to comply with applicable provisions of the Endangered Species Act while supplying as much water as possible for Klamath Project irrigators.
“Reclamation is working hard to balance the available water to meet the competing needs of the Klamath Project and other resource needs in the Klamath Basin. Every acre-foot of water is valuable and is in limited supply,” said Klamath Basin Area Office Water Operations Chief David Felstul.
Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the U.S.