KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The Bureau of Reclamation announced the beginning of flood control operations on the Upper Klamath Lake with increased releases having started Monday, according to a news release.
The public is urged to take all necessary precautions, including avoiding high-water areas, on or near the Link or Klamath rivers (including below Keno and J.C. Boyle dams) while flows are elevated.
Increased inflows along the stretch of river from Link River Dam to Iron Gate Dam are anticipated over the next week or longer. Based on current projections, flows below Iron Gate Dam will be increasing from approximately 4,000 cubic feet per second; to at least 6,030 cubic feet per second, possibly more than 8,000 cubic feet per second.
“We are very thankful that the weather and increased inflows also created ideal conditions for this flushing flow,” said Reclamation’s Area Manager Jeff Nettleton. “We can optimize the water released to reduce disease among Klamath River salmonids while maintaining Upper Klamath Lake, within flood control levels, as well as providing for habitat and spawning needs for suckers.”
The current hydrologic conditions, including rain on snow and increased temperatures resulting in snow melt at higher elevations, make this an ideal time to accomplish the flow event as part of required flood operations. Upper Klamath Lake reached the flood control curve April 3, which means that Reclamation must release water from Upper Klamath Lake to maintain the lake elevation at or below the prescribed flood control elevations. The high inflow to Upper Klamath Lake as well as additional inflows to the Klamath River from down-river tributaries, will also optimize the effectiveness of the flushing flow event.
The flood control releases also meet the needs of salmon in the Klamath River by providing a flushing flow as included in Reclamation’s Proposed Action that was analyzed by the National Marine Fisheries Service in their 2019 Biological Opinion. As part of the action, a flushing flow designed to reduce the prevalence of Ceratonova shasta disease (C. shasta) in Klamath River coho salmon below Iron Gate Dam is likely to be implemented each year. The flushing flows are intended to disrupt the life cycle of C. shasta by disturbing the river bed and clearing submerged rocks of polychaetes, which are the intermediate host of C. shasta.
Because the flushing flows are explicitly provided for under the 2019 BiOp as part of the Klamath River water account, implementation will not impact the project irrigation supply.