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Klamath Regulation Update


New Portal to Track Regulation in the Klamath Basin
The Department has launched a new portal containing information about the calls for water made by senior users in the Klamath Basin, the status of those calls, whether regulation has occurred, and the priority date to which junior water rights  are required to shutoff.  Click here for details.  Any questions about the information on this portal should be directed to the Klamath Falls Watermaster’s office: (541) 883-4182.

Background and Process for Regulation

Like most western states, Oregon follows the “prior appropriation” doctrine of water use often referred to as “first in time, first in right.” This means that when there is not enough water to satisfy all water rights, water users with senior priority dates make a “call” to receive water, and users with relatively junior water rights are shut off until the rights of the senior users making the call are satisfied.

Prior to regulating junior users off, the Department’s watermaster staff must make field measurements to validate the call and determine whether there is adequate water at the point of diversion to satisfy the senior user’s water right demand. Once the calls are validated, the Department must begin regulating junior (newer) water right diversions off to benefit the senior users.

Unlike last year, watermaster staff will not be visiting each individual water user to provide notice of regulation. Instead, junior water users that are required to shutoff will receive a notice in the mail. This is the process that occurs across much of the state. Watermaster staff will follow up with field checks to ensure that water users are complying with the regulation.

Water users that have questions about regulation should contact the Klamath Falls Watermaster’s office at (541) 883-4182.

Regulation to meet the call by the Klamath Tribes

On June 10, the Department received a call for regulation by the Klamath Tribes on the Sprague, Sycan, and Wood Rivers, as well as Crooked, Sand, Scott, Jackson, Irving and Deep Creeks.  Department staff have been measuring and monitoring stream flows to assess how they are responding to regulation resulting from the Klamath Project call, and whether these flow levels are below the flow levels needed to satisfy a tribal water right call.  Based on these assessments, the watermaster will determine the proper regulation to meet the Tribes’ instream flows on the requested streams.  At this time the Department does not have an estimate of the number of water right holders that will be regulated.

Update on regulation to meet calls by the Klamath Project and irrigation districts

The Oregon Water Resources Department received calls for water in the Klamath Basin during the week of May 26. The calls for water were made by Malin Irrigation District, Shasta View Irrigation District, Tulelake Irrigation District, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the Klamath Irrigation Project, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Lower Klamath and Tule Lake refuges), Klamath Basin Improvement District, Poe Valley Improvement District, Van Brimmer Ditch Company, Sunnyside Irrigation District, Pioneer Irrigation District, Klamath Irrigation District, Inter-County Properties, Co., and Don Johnston and Son. After receiving the calls, the Department conducted measurements to validate the calls for water.  On June 6, the Department validated the call and sent out notices to regulate junior water users off to provide water to the senior water users that made the call. During the week of June 9, watermaster staff  have been following up with field visits to ensure compliance with the regulation and to take measurements to determine the results of the regulation.

Preference for Human Consumption and Stock Water

The Oregon Water Resources Commission has granted a preference for human consumption and stock water use in Klamath County during the Governor’s drought declaration.  This means that human consumption and stock watering uses can continue under a water right that would otherwise be regulated, while other uses under that same water right must be curtailed.  "Human Consumption" means the use of water for the purposes of drinking, cooking, and sanitation. It does not include such things at outside water uses, for example, washing cars and watering lawns.  “Stock Watering Use” means the use of water for consumption by domesticated animals and wild animals held in captivity as pets or for profit.  Contact the watermaster if you have questions about the preference and regulation of your water right.