from June 2013, Economics
2001. We all remember it well. Klamath irrigators were cut off in the heart of the growing season. Potato farmers lost their crops, some grain farmers made it, others didn't and pastures for livestock went dry. Green quickly tuned to brown as the water was shut off.
The KBRA was written in reaction to this calamity. The KBRA is supposed to "bring people together" and solve the problem at the local community level. Well that is the propaganda drivel proponents often spew. I have no problem with the local community fixing its own problems. But that's not what is happening. According to the KBRA, in order for the local community to fix those problems, the Federal Government must fund the buy back of Tribal lands, must fund dam removal on the Klamath and set aside a fund to help farmers survive when Klamath enters a low water year. If you ask me, there is nothing local about that at all. It is mostly Federal. The only "local" part is who receives funding.
That said, the KBRA is really built on a false premise — and that premise is that in 2001 Upper Klamath Lake did not have enough water to meet the needs of biological opinions for fish in the lake, fish in the river and irrigators in the basin. So a judge cut the irrigators off — based on faulty science. That's right, later it was found the data used by the judge was incorrect. Had the judge been given accurate data the water to irrigators would have flowed as it has every year since the projects began.
If you have read this blog for any time, you have quickly come to realize that none of us here are fans of the KBRA. We have philosophical differences that quickly lead to practical differences in how to solve the problem. And what is the problem? There (apparently) is not enough water in the Basin to support fish, farmers and native American traditions.
Since there is not enough water, a political solution was dreamed up by the KBRA geniuses. Here are some highlights:
- 92,000 acres are given to the Klamath Tribes (also known as the Mazama Tree Farm) funded by taxpayer money.
- Hydroelectric Dams are removed along the Klamath River (paid for in great part by the tax payer).
- Subsidies are issued to Klamath farmers in low water years when they won't be given water (think Welfare for Farmers)
Again this is a political solution. It doesn't recognize that when dams are removed along the Klamath river it will take more water to maintain river levels minimums required by biological opinions — in other words, less water in the lake and less water available for Klamath farmers. That seems backwards, doesn't it? But that is what political solutions do: they remove reality from the equation and use taxpayer money to pacify people who might otherwise object.