RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. – March 25, 2024 – The Tulelake Irrigation District and Ducks Unlimited (DU) have partnered to activate Pumping Plant D in the Klamath Basin, which will pump much-needed water from Tule Lake into Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in four years.

Historically, 80% of the water that makes its way to Lower Klamath comes through Pumping Plant D, making it the most important water source for the nation’s first wildlife refuge. The Refuge is an important part of the overall health of the Klamath Basin because it is used by approximately 80%, or 5 million, of the Pacific Flyway's waterfowl for all life history stages.

“Pumping Plant D is vital to the water management of the Klamath Basin, providing water necessary for the recovery of endangered fish species and waterfowl,” said Jeff McCreary, director of operations for DU’s Western Region. “We are proud to partner in the region, supporting water delivery to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and working to create durable, multi-beneficial solutions for wildlife and people.”

Starting last week, Pumping Plant D is pumping thousands of acre-feet of flood water through a tunnel in Sheepy Ridge. 

“After facing unparalleled drought in the Klamath Basin the past few years, favorable conditions this year have allowed Tule Lake refuge Sumps 1A and 1B to fill,” said Greg Austin, project leader for the Klamath Basin refuge complex. “By working with the Tulelake Irrigation District, and with broad support from Klamath Basin Tribes and the Klamath Water Users Association, the Service was able to bring the D plant online for the first time in over five years, pumping water to Lower Klamath refuge, which will provide important wetland habitat for thousands of spring migrating water birds.”  

The last time “D Plant,” as it is known locally, was initialized in 2020, it pumped 2,405 acre-feet into the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. In 2019, D Plant pumped 37,452 acre-feet of water at a cost of $406,000.

Over the last 30 years, the pump's cost has risen by more than 2,800%. Today, the pump costs $10.87 per acre-foot, up from 37 cents per acre-foot in 1990.

The pump was installed in the 1940s and uses outdated, expensive technology to relay water.

“Through our management and operations at TID, we were able to put water back in the Tule Lake Sumps, reestablishing flow-through connectivity between the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges with D Plant," said Brad Kirby, manager of the Tulelake Irrigation District. "For the long-term health of the refuges, it is increasingly important that D Plant be updated to more reliable, cost-effective technology and continue to pump water throughout the years in the future."

We need to be able to move water in a way that benefits fish, fowl, and people,” McCreary said. “D Plant is a critical tool to optimize wetland management on these two refuges.”

DU is grateful to Tulelake Irrigation District, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Modoc Nation for their active and supportive partnership in restoring and reconnecting the Klamath Basin. DU and its partners are engaged in a collaborative feasibility study to gauge how Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge can aid in the recovery of listed fish species, such as the endangered sucker fish and threatened Coho Salmon.

To support DU’s unwavering commitment to the people and wildlife of this important region, please visit the Klamath Basin Initiative.  

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetlands, grasslands and other waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has restored or protected more than 18 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science, DU’s projects benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people in all 50 states. DU is growing its mission through a historic $3 billion Conservation For A Continent capital campaign. Learn more at www.ducks.org.

Media Contact: 

Molly Jarone

(916) 903-9199