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Klamath River Basin: Reclamation Met Its Water Bank Obligations, but Information Provided to Water Bank Stakeholders Could Be Improved

GAO-05-283 Published: Mar 28, 2005. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 2005.
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Drought conditions along the Oregon and California border since 2000 have made it difficult for the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to meet Klamath Project irrigation demands and Klamath River flow requirements for threatened salmon. To augment river flows and avoid jeopardizing the salmon's existence, Reclamation established a multiyear water bank as part of its Klamath Project operations for 2002 through 2011. Water banks facilitate the transfer of water entitlements between users. This report addresses (1) how Reclamation operated the water bank and its cost from 2002 through 2004, (2) whether Reclamation met its annual water bank obligations each year, (3) the water bank's impact on water availability and use in the Klamath River Basin, and (4) alternative approaches for achieving the water bank's objectives.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Bureau of Reclamation The Bureau of Reclamation should take steps to improve the information provided to stakeholders regarding water bank management and accounting by regularly and systematically providing--through media such as a water bank Web-link or a monthly or biweekly press release--public information on the rationale and effects of management decisions related to forecasted water availability, unexpected spill conditions, or other significant events, as well as regularly updated information regarding the water bank's status, including the amount of water bank deliveries to date.
Closed – Implemented
Bureau of Reclamation implemented the recommendation.

Full Report

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DroughtsFishesIrrigationLand managementLand reclamationPerformance measuresProgram managementWater conservationWater resources conservationWater resources developmentWater supply managementWildlife conservationWater storageFarmland