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Know the West

Skeletons in the Klamath Basin's closets

  Rebecca Clarren’s article on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath River Basin Water Bank fails to mention that over the past five years, $50 million has been given to farmers in the Basin to reduce their water use through improved irrigation efficiency (HCN, 10/17/05: 'Water bank' drags river basin deeper into debt). Where is the water that has been saved as a result of giving this massive taxpayer subsidy to Klamath Basin irrigators?

Getting the answer would require a government investigation. The federal Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), which disbursed the money, says that details can’t be revealed even with a Freedom of Information Act request. The Klamath Forest Alliance has asked Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and other members of Congress to conduct an investigation, but we have been repeatedly rebuffed.

It seems that the representatives who brought home the bacon are not interested in learning how it was spent. I suspect there are some big skeletons locked in the Basin’s NRCS closets.

Felice Pace
Klamath Riverkeeper
Klamath, California