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More comprehensive analysis of Klamath River basin needed to aid decision makers
Date:11/28/2007

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The careful documentation and analysis of the NFS provides a foundation for future studies, gives some basis for understanding unimpaired flows in the basin, and allows a clearer vision of how the parts of the Klamath River basin -- especially areas above Upper Klamath Lake -- interact with each other, the committee said. However, the NFS includes calculated flows that are at best first approximations to useful estimates of flows, and it does not provide enough information for detailed management of flows for the benefit of threatened, endangered, and other anadromous fish species in the Klamath River downstream from Iron Gate Dam.

The most critical shortcomings of the NFS are its inadequate linkages between the Klamath River and Lower Klamath Lake, and the study's production of monthly, rather than daily flows. Additionally, the NFS is compromised by its basic approach to natural flows, choices of the models for calculations, and omissions of factors likely to influence river flows at the Iron Gate Dam gauge site. For example, the NFS does not factor in the role of groundwater, which should be included because groundwater pumping and marsh drainage are common to help meet agriculture needs. Also, the model results indicate that if more water is devoted to agriculture, more water would be returned to the Klamath River. The committee stressed that although such a result is not impossible, it is at least counterintuitive and should be explored and explained completely.

To move forward on science and management in the basin, the committee recommended that key agencies, researchers, decision makers, and stakeholders work together with an independent science review mechanism to define a basin-wide science plan that identifies research and management needs and priorities. If this group determines that the NFS and the IFS could help satisfy science needs in the basin, investigators should improve both studies by using daily flows
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Contact: Jennifer Walsh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
The National Academies
Source:Eurekalert

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