In the Flow
District news & updates
22 February 2023 Update
In this Issue:
  • Upcoming Events
  • Basin Ag News 2nd edition
  • 2023 Irrigation Season & Related Political Issues Effecting our Communities
  • Update from Farmers Conservation Alliance
  • News stories impacting our communities
  • Recently published interactive Story Maps
  • Job Opportunities - K.I.D. is hiring
2023 Irrigation Season & Related
Political Issues Effecting Our Communities
Drought declaration could be coming soon from Klamath...

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. -Governor Kotek is declaring drought emergencies in Crook and Jefferson counties. They're the first drought declarations of the year. Locally, Klamath County has not declared a drought yet. County leaders are watching the...

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Despite wet winter, adjustments arrive for Klamath Project

Despite a wet winter in Southern Oregon and Northern California, the Klamath Basin remains in an extensive, multi-year drought.To conserve water, The Bureau of

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Chart #28 of Reclamation's latest update utilizes assumptions in their models that Klamath Reclamation Project diversions will not occur until May 2023.
Inflow into Upper Klamath Lake continues to be well below 25% of average.

Reclamation reduced outflow at Iron Gate Dam by 11% beginning 14 February in an effort to ensure Upper Klamath Lake elevations will be at or above 4,142 for C'waam (Lost River Sucker) spawning between 1 April and 30 May while providing some water for a flushing flow below Iron Gate Dame in mid-late April to move sediment. Reclamation has stated the 11% water savings included before 1 April will return to the River and not be made available for agricultural purposes regardless of any biological need for the water to be released or stored in Upper Klamath Lake.

This action is under protest by the Yurok tribe with additional legal motions filed in the Northern District of California.
Reclamation Chart #31 depicts Reclamation modeling efforts to predict Upper Klamath Lake Levels under Reclamation's 2023 Temporary Operating Procedures with this 11% reduction of flows at Iron Gate Dam. Note, this model, even with the 11% reduction does not predict Upper Klamath Lake will reach the biological opinion level of 4,142 before 1 April. Reclamation is still analyzing what a flushing flow could accomplish on 15 April, 30 April, or 15 May.
Weather Seasonal Climate Forecast for March - May 2023
Watch the video.
The Seasonal Climate Forecast is produced as part of a cooperative effort by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Related Litigation & Legislation History
Hypothetical question for our readership:

If the State and a Tribe have a memorandum of understanding that the State will not uphold its legal obligations unless ordered to do so in a court of law, how do you want your paid representatives to defend your rights under the law?

On the road to conflict...

OWRD initiated the process for a general stream adjudication of the Klamath River Basin (Basin) in 1975 by issuing notices that it would begin an investigation for a proper determination of claims to water rights within the Basin.

On 27 October 1986, Congress passed the Klamath River Basin Act, Public Law 99-552, introduced to the House by California Representative Douglas H. Bosco, for the purpose of authorizing a 20-year long federal state cooperative on the mid and lower Klamath River. This act contained numerous provisions and expenditures to the portion of the Klamath River confined downstream of Iron Gate Dam. From this Act, the Klamath River Basin Task Force was established. Bob Rohde (Karuk Department of Natural Resources) and Mike Belchik (Yurok Fisheries) were the chairs of the Congressionally directed Task Force's Technical Work Group to create a flow study plan to fulfill the Task Force directive.

On 11 May 1990, Interior's Regional solicitor in Portland with the Department of the Interior rendered an opinion that, "there is nothing in the Fisheries Restoration Act to prevent the Task Force from extending the Act's influence onto the lands and waters of the Upper Klamath River Basin." This was supported by Congressman Bob Smith's amendment to the Klamath Act. Read the discussion here...

In 1992, the Upper Klamath Basin experienced severe drought conditions similar to the dry conditions recorded in the years between 1918 and 1937 often referenced as the dust bowl.

In 1992, the courts also determined that the United States Government, the Klamath Tribes, and any other sovereign was subject to the McCarren Amendment in the Klamath River Adjudication. The Klamath Tribes, Reclamation, and USFWS all submitted claims in the Klamath River Adjudication.

Francis S. Landrum, a registered engineer in Klamath County, asked Oregon Water Resources Department "To review, with intent to extinguish, the overt action of a U.S. Department of the Interior regional solicitor acting in a scheme designed to enforce a single-purpose river usage management plan onto an extensive geographic region where a multi-use Interstate Compact has been in successful operation for 35 years. This [individual] did without rationality, denying representation to upstream water-user interests, and with blatant disregard of the obvious intent of Congress."

On 11 August 1992, Klamath County Commissioners became alarmed when they became aware the Fisheries Task Force had released a draft of a long-term management plan for the Upper Klamath Basin. Klamath County did not have any representation in the task force prior to this date. On 14 December 1992, Klamath County Commissioners further expressed alarm of the pending conflict, "This Board does not recognize any action which has been taken by the Task Force of the Fisheries Restoration Act to expand into the Upper Klamath River Basin...This Board urges you to redouble your efforts to erase the Task Force's ill advised (and probably illegal) action in entering the Upper Klamath River Basin, clearly adverse to the intent of Congress, and to the provisions of the Klamath River Basin Compact, an interstate compact." Read the Commissioners Letter here...

In 1996, Robert Anderson directed the Bureau of Indian Affairs to hire Dr. Thomas Hardy to develop evidence to support the Yurok water rights claim in the Klamath Adjudication. The deadline to submit claims in the Klamath Adjudication was 30 April 1997. Hardy attended and facilitated a meeting with the Congressionally mandated Klamath River Basin Fisheries Task Force beginning with correspondence to the Task Force plan provided to Hardy in 1996. Hardy received at least $50,000 of tax payer money for his efforts in 1997 from the Task Force, and an additional $1.6 Million of tax-payer funds between 1996 and 2001 for his work on Yurok water-rights.

"Non-Indian users were often aided by federal programs operated by the Bureau of Reclamation to develop large irrigation projects int he derogation of tribal rights...[tribal] parties would be best off to default to the usual presumptions recognizing inherent tribal authority over on-reservation water resources and state authority outside of Indian country...On remand to the state court system for quantification, there were years of litigation regarding the state system's merit under the McCarran Amendment, culminating in a decision permitting the Oregon courts to proceed with the adjudication of the Klamath River Basin." - Dr. Robert Anderson

On 29 September 1997, Hardy participated in a Task Force Technical Work Group (TWG) facilitated by the Yurok Fisheries lead in which he opened his introduction with "My time is paid for by the U.S. Department of Justice, but that I am "leaving that hat at the door." Both Hardy and the TWG chair failed to tell the TWG Dr. Hardy was being paid to support claims for Yurok water-rights claims.

On 6 May 1998, Cynthia Barry with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote to Dr. Hardy stating, "I am very concerned that all work on instream flow in the Klamath basin needs to be adequately coordinated...I only learned of your work with the Klamath Federal negotiating team through Mr. Anderson's recent memorandum."

On 15 October 1998, Dr. Hardy and Robert Anderson confirm that Dr. Hardy was previously and concurrently under contract with the Department of Justice to support Yurok Water rights. And that Robert Anderson was wanting to reach a settlement outside of the legal process and Klamath River Adjudication. Read the contracts and associated documents here.

Hardy completed Phase I of his report which directly resulted in the 2001 water crisis and the beginning of an 18-year court case known as "Bailey". Hardy's work was heavily criticized...but nonetheless he published Phase II a few years later. Despite the heavy criticism, clear outcome-oriented models and reports, and scientific evidence opposing assumptions in the Hardy flow models, the Federal Government and Yurok still look to Hardy's flow models as the best available science. This results in biased biological opinions which overestimate the amount of water required to facilitate coho habitat.

The Klamath Adjudication (mentioned above) issued its initial finding of fact with water-rights claims on 7 March 2013 providing adjudicated water-rights to the Klamath Tribes, Klamath Project irrigators and a number of others. However, no claims were presented to the Klamath Adjudication by the Yurok tribe as required under the McCarren Amendment.

By 17 June 2013, Richard Whitman, (appointed by Oregon Governor Kitzhaber) had drafted a dispute resolution with the Yurok Tribe which acknowledges Oregon Water Resources Department does not recognize flows downstream in the Klamath River is required by Reclamation. However, Whitman signs a document, on behalf of the Oregon Governor, that states OWRD will not interfere with releases of water to the Klamath River by Reclamation unless directed otherwise by order of a court with proper jurisdiction.

Since learning of this action by Richard Whitman, Klamath Irrigation District has attempted to get a court to issue OWRD an order to this effect. OWRD resisted all efforts by K.I.D. to insist OWRD perform its legal duties. The District was successful in 2021 in having the Oregon court direct OWRD to perform its lawful duty in accordance with Oregon law. The District was hopeful this would break the Whitman / Yurok agreement. In 2021, OWRD issued a letter to Reclamation that it had released stored water from Upper Klamath Lake without a water-right to do so. However, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned this decision based upon an administrative action which claims the trial judge precluded Reclamation from being a party to the case.

Concurrently, in 2019, the Yurok filed suit against Reclamation for its 2019 Proposed Action and Operations Plan claiming Reclamation used the wrong information which was provided by and confirmed by Dr. Hardy. Dr. Hardy found this mistake while working for the Yurok tribe. This case was stayed with the agreement irrigators would get 24,000 acre feet less water EVERY YEAR and more water would be taken out of Upper Klamath Lake for river flows EVERY YEAR regardless of hydrology.

In 2022, the Federal government then asked to lift the stay in the Yurok case to bring suit against OWRD to negate Oregon State exercising its authority and obligations under Section 8 of the Relamation act. In case this approach did not work, the Federal Government filed a sister suit in Oregon with the same claims. This is the Federal Government's way of court shopping. The Oregon case is currently stayed pending the outcome of the Yurok case.

Klamath Irrigation District decided to intervened in the Yurok v. Reclamation case in 2022 to defend OWRD's order and the water rights in the Klamath Adjudication. As argued, the case was more representative for title of Yurok Tribes and the Federal Government v. Oregon, KWUA, and K.I.D with Klamath Tribes defending their claims in the Klamath Adjudication.

Prior to a decision being issued, the Yurok submitted an additional motion to the court. Read the motion here...this additional motion further attacks the Klamath Adjudication.

Judge Orrick issued his decision in the case on 6 February 2023. Read it here...

Opinion of the District Manager, Gene Souza: Dr. Thomas Hardy's Phase I and Phase II flow models are not the best available science; these models are biased and were developed with outcome-oriented towards Yurok water rights claims. Judge Orrick's decision appears to eliminate Section 8 of the Reclamation Act and nullifies the findings of fact in the Klamath Adjudication.

As this case is still pending the motion by the Yurok, a possible Phase II round of hearings, and potential appeal actions. Further conjecture or opinions are limited to facts.
ESA Preempts Oregon Water Rule in U.S. District Court...

On February 6, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California sided with the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and plaintiffs Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, and the...

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Update from Farmers Conservation Alliance

On January 31, SHN Engineers & Geologists, Inc. (SHN) finalized early alternatives and submitted them to us as a Technical Memorandum.

We are developing a Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA) for Klamath Irrigation District under the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program (also referred to as PL-566). In general, a Plan-EA describes the purpose and need for the district’s modernization project, the alternatives considered, the resources potentially impacted by the project, the possible effects on each of those resources, and the results of an economic analysis.
News Stories Impacting our Communities
Congressman Cliff Bentz, our Oregon Representative of the people within the Klamath Project.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa, our California Representative of the people within the Klamath Project
Officials Fail to Respond to Congressman Bentz and LaMalfa's inquiries
In June and October 2022 Congressman Bentz and LaMalfa requested information missing from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's record. This request for information has gone unanswered.

"All of our questions for Secretary Haaland are sill pending. It is shocking and unacceptable that, over a dozen years after signing the dam removal agreement, the Department of the Interior has no information, or at least none that it will disclose to Congress, FERC, or the public on critical subjects. These include issues that pertain to also uncertain federal authorities and the outcomes of promised investigations of the implications of the Bureau of Reclamation taking title to Keno Dam, a FERC-licensed facility.

Alfalfa is more than a thirsty crop

Many look at growing alfalfa as a waste of precious water in a time of drought. Not so. Alfalfa is fed to farm animals, mainly cattle. Cattle not only provide protein, a necessary component of our diets, but vital medicines and everyday products. ...

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2023 Farm Bill projected to be most expensive on record

The new farm bill will likely be the most expensive ever, according to a projection based on the current farm bill. The Congressional Budget Office's most recent projections of farm bill outlays for 2024 through 2033 indicate how much money is...

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'It's as bad as ever': Four years of drought taking a...

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ore. - Over the past four years of drought, Jefferson County dairy farmer Jos Poland has watched as many of his friends and fellow farmers left the industry to seek a livelihood elsewhere. Doing business in agriculture without...

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Water wars

Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over. This is far from an original statement, but no truer mantra has ever been spoken. The western U.S. is in all-out battle over water, and it's being fought in localities, states, and nationally . ...

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Oregon juniper removal bill would spend $9.8 million to...

SALEM - The battle against junipers would get a $9 million boost in seven Oregon counties under a bill intended to protect scarce water from the notoriously thirsty rangeland trees. Under House Bill 3142, juniper removal grants ranging from...

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Oregon's water problems are accumulating; Idaho may have ...

The Jan. 25 report on Oregon's water shortage, released by the Secretary of State's office, prominently included a cautionary quote from the legendary western explorer John Wesley Powell, delivered in 1893 as the regional approach to water...

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This is a simple story of corruption, fraud and abuse of the taxpayer. It does not take a third grader to know when a Governor has stolen money. In 2014 the people of California passed a bond that included $5.7 billion to BUILD water storage...

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Calif. Tribe Again Tries To Block Trinity Winter Flow...

A California tribe has renewed its bid to block the implementation of a winter water flow management project for the Trinity River, this time telling a California federal court that the U.S. Department of the Interior and its Bureau of...

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Anniversary for oddly Oregon

Happy Anniversary, Beaver Staters! Feb. 14 may be best known as the lover's day, with hearts and chocolates, expensive gifts and odes of affection. But it's also the day Oregon became a state in 1859. To mark 164 years as a part of the United...

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News Releases
February 15, 2023
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced his committee assignments for the 118th Congress, which he says he’ll use to deliver critical resources to Oregon and advance his work to provide opportunity and support to America’s working families.
Merkley will continue to be a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, including serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the Senate Budget Committee; and the Senate Rules Committee. Merkley will also serve as the Co-Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
“From Oregon all the way to the halls of Congress, our fight to work across party lines to solve problems and deliver for working families never ends,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley. “My unique combination of committee assignments and Chairmanships gives me the tools to deliver critical wildfire and water resources to Oregon, tackle the effects of climate chaos, cement our global leadership in security and human rights, and help give working families the foundations they need to thrive. Working on behalf of the people of Oregon is the honor of my lifetime. I will fight every day to ensure that our ‘We the People’ government is restored, and that it delivers the opportunity and support Oregonians in every corner of our state need and deserve.”
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee a decade ago so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation makes. In his first term as Chairman of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee – which funds the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service, among others – Merkley secured major investments in wildfire risk reduction and forest health in the 2023 funding bill. In the last two years, Merkley with the support of members of Oregon’s congressional delegation secured a total of 293 community-initiated projects for Oregon. Community-initiated projects will receive essential support needed to help meet critical needs in every corner of Oregon, including investing in wildfire and drought resiliency, affordable housing, health care, education, manufacturing, and much more, all while creating essential services and good-paying jobs.
On the Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight, Merkley leads the fight to save lives from environmental racism, deadly chemicals, and to curb out-of-control plastic production and pollution. In his first term with the gavel, Merkley convened historic hearings on environmental justiceplastic pollution and banning asbestos.
Merkley was again appointed to the Senate Rules Committee, which has key jurisdiction over democracy reform and Senate rules. In 2022, the Senate came just two votes short in an attempt to force a talking filibuster on the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act– legislation Merkley played a key role in writing. This critical legislation would combat ongoing attempts by MAGA Republicans to capture our courts, pour massive sums of dark money in politics, suppress votes, gerrymander districts, and undermine the integrity of our elections infrastructure. Merkley will continue leading filibuster reform efforts to ensure the Senate debates and votes on big issues to protect our fundamental freedoms and unrig our government which benefits the most powerful and privileged.
“We’re facing a democratic crisis: dark money pouring into our elections, partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression efforts aimed at barring Americans from having a voice in our elections, and public officials who are working to line their own pockets instead of to serve their constituents,” said Merkley. “To make progress on protecting our democratic republic, the Senate needs an overhaul that makes it possible to debate and then actually vote on legislation. I wear the title of ‘Chief Filibuster Antagonist’ with pride and will continue my work to reform the broken filibuster and get the Senate back to working order.”
In the 118th Congress, Merkley continues to serve on the prestigious Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which plays a critical role in the development of the United States’ foreign policy and has jurisdiction over diplomatic nominations. Last year, Merkley’s bipartisan resolution condemning starvation as a weapon of war was unanimously passed by the Committee and the Senate. Merkley successfully led efforts to authorize sanctions on the Myanmar Oil and Gas Sector, a call Merkley has led since the January 2021 coup. Merkley took a leading role in encouraging peace talks that lead to the cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia. Merkley was one of the first members of Congress to call for sanctions against Juan Orlando Hernández for corruption and to encourage his identification as a specially designated narcotics trafficker. And it was Merkley’s Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act which paved the path for the Biden administration’s request to arrest and extradite Juan Orlando Hernández today.
“Amid the war in Ukraine and humanitarian crises around the globe, now is the time for the United States’ global leadership,” said Merkley. “We need global cooperation to tackle our biggest challenges, including climate chaos, violent extremism, and disrupted supply chains. We can’t give all Americans the opportunities they deserve without strong, thoughtful foreign policy.”
Merkley also continues as Co-Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). Established in 2000, the CECC is tasked with monitoring China’s compliance with international human rights standards and encouraging the development of rule of law in China. The CECC’s 2022 Annual Report provides the latest account of human rights abuses in China. As Chair of the CECC in 2022, Merkley led the Commission’s work to highlight China’s grave human rights abuses ahead of the Olympics and led calls for a diplomatic boycott. Merkley co-led, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the historic passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Merkley also secured an extension of a ban on the export of crowd control weapons to Hong Kong, the establishment of a task force to monitor and address the impacts of China’s censorship and intimidation strategies, and various provisions to strengthen the United States’ relationship with Taiwan.
“The Chinese Communist Party has reinforced Xi Jinping’s grip on the levers of power in China, which continue to be weaponized against the universally recognized human rights of the people of China,” said Merkley. “The CECC will continue to work on standing against China’s assaults on fundamental rights, bolstering cooperation to hold China accountable, and protecting those fleeing persecution, facing transnational repression, fighting coercion, or fearing the destruction of their culture.”
As a member of the Senate Budget Committee for his entire tenure in the U.S. Senate, Merkley uses his seat to set the framework for national spending priorities with an emphasis on tackling climate chaos, the opportunity crisis, and protecting Social Security and Medicare for all Americans.
Recent Story Map Projects
A Brief History of the Klamath Irrigation District

and the Klamath Reclamation Project

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Wetlands, Waterbirds, and Water

A visual journey through a century of change

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Stories from Klamath River Basin

Water Solutions Network

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Preparing the Klamath Basin for Dam Removal

A StoryMap Spotlighting Collaborative Efforts to Enhance Fish Passage in the Klamath River Basin in Honor of World Fish Migration Day 2020 with a moderate amount of misinformation.

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The Klamath River - A Tribal Perspective

The purpose of this story map is to explore the perception of damage that dams have done to the native culture and river's ecosystem.

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Employment Opportunities
South Suburban Sanitary District - Finance Director

Posted: 12/30/2022 Salary: $75,000 - $98,000 DOE Location: Klamath Falls, OR Application deadline: Open until filled Description: Under the general supervision of the District Manager, the Finance Director is responsible for all areas related to...

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Klamath Irrigation District is hiring

We are currently recruiting for 2 (two) relief ditch riders and an (one) Assistant Operations / Safety Officer.

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Keno RFPD - Fire Chief

Posted: 1/13/2023 Salary: $85,000 - $95,000 plus a competitive benefit package. Location: Keno, OR The Keno Fire District is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Fire Chief. Keno Fire District provides fire and EMS emergency response...

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Ditch Rider - Tumalo Irrigation District
Starting Wage: $22.00 to $25.00 DOE
Benefits (after 6-month probationary period): Health insurance (medical, dental, and vision), District contribution to Retirement plan, 8 paid holidays/year, 5-15 days paid vacation/year (based on tenure), 10 days paid sick leave/year, District vehicle.
Location: Bend, OR
Distributes irrigation water to the users of the District’s water rights within their assigned area in accordance with Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Administrative Rules, District Policies and Procedures and District management direction using information based upon decrees, partial decrees, permits, licenses and transfers. The Ditch Rider encounters and must communicate with District patrons daily. The District places tremendous value on strong relationships and timely, respectful communication with its water users. The employee works under the supervision of the District Manager and/or Field Supervisor during Irrigation Season and Maintenance Season.
This full-time position is being advertised February 2023 until filled.
Application, cover letter and resume should be submitted to the District office by email at or you may drop all three documents off in person at our District office located at 64697 Cook Avenue. To view full job announcement visit our website at:
The mission of Klamath Irrigation District is to acquire, maintain, assure, and deliver an adequate water supply for beneficial use on qualified land with the Klamath Project. We represent our Patrons before government agencies, the legislature, Congress, and in such forms as appropriate for the perfection and protection of their water rights. 

We defend the District from actions which would diminish our effectiveness and function. 

We further promote the conservation of water, soil, and other natural resources.