Interior Violates Data Quality Act At Klamath River Basin
Click for GAO Klamath report.
The Government Accounting Office recently released a report concluding that the Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation violated the Data Quality Act when it released information about water flows in the Klamath River Basin. Actually, GAO concluded that
"Reclamation has not been clear in communicating what actions it took and
why it took those actions, resulting in a lack of transparency for stakeholders
regarding the operation of the water bank." Klamath River Basin: Reclamation
Met Its Water Bank Obligations, but Information Provided to Water Bank
Stakeholders Could be Improved , page 6 (GAO-05-283, March 2005).
This GAO conclusion is tantamount to finding a DQA violation because the DQA requires Reclamation and other federal agencies to be transparent in their operations. Reclamation responded to the GAO report by promising to implement new measures that will ensure transparency. We'll see.
There is a long-standing controversy over who gets the Klamath River Basin water and how much. Reclamation controls water flow and allocation through an elaborate system of dams, canals and drains. Some Native American tribes and the usual cast of NGOs claim that Reclamation must allow more water to flow through the River, and allocate less water for farm irrigation, in order to protect the coho salmon, which is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, although that listing may no longer exist.
In January 2005, a federal district court judge ruled that the federal government violated the ESA when it failed to consider hatchery fish in assessing coho's endangered status in southern Oregon and northern California rivers. The court's decision won't help the farmers who've already lost everything because they couldn't get enough water to grow their crops. Winston is thinking about petitioning for endangered species status for the farmers in the area, but we all know that farmers are less important to the government than fish.