Growing season coming to a close
H&N photo by Dylan Darling
Buck Island rises in the background and
Hanks Marsh covers the foreground in this
photo of Upper Klamath Lake taken Thursday.
The lake is nearing its lowest point of the
season, as the close of irrigation season
approaches next week.
October 7, 2005 By DYLAN
DARLING H&N Staff Writer
Farmers are digging up potatoes. The last cuttings
of hay are waiting to be baled. Another growing
season is coming to a close in the Klamath Basin.
The summer went smoothly, as
far as water was concerned.
”We made it through the season without a crisis, so
I think it went well,“ said Mark Stuntebeck,
assistant manager of the Klamath Irrigation
Flows from Upper Klamath Lake into the A canal, the
Klamath Reclamation Project's main irrigation
conduit, will be stopped on Oct. 14, when the
Klamath Irrigation District closes its headgates. At
that time, water will begin storing up for the next
growing season, which will start about April 1 when
the headgates are opened again.
Cecil Lesley, land and operations chief for the
Klamath Project, said the lake should have 167,000
acre-feet of water left in it when the headgates are
closed next week.
”It's more than we have had in a couple of the
recent years,“ he said.
When the lake is full to the brim - which happens
only in the springtime - it holds about 500,000
acre-feet, or enough to cover half a million acres
with a foot of water.
Held back by the Link River Dam, the shallow,
marshy lake provides water for about 180,000 acres
of farmland and two national wildlife refuges.
The spigot isn't completely turned off though.
Some water will be drawn from from the Ady Canal on
the Klamath River at the rate of 50 cubic feet per
second, or 1 acre-foot per day, for the the national
wildlife refuges, Lesley said. The water will be
supplied as long at the refuges need it to wet their
wetlands during the winter.
Six months ago, going into the growing season,
things looked like they could be tight for
The mountain snowpack above
Upper Klamath Lake was piddly - about 20 percent of
average as federal officials were issuing forecasts
for water supplies.
Once the water started flowing, Bureau officials
asked irrigators to trim back their use by 15
percent and the year was labeled as ”dry.“
Then the rains came. And came and came.
April got 1.86 inches of precipitation and May got
2.46 inches, adding up to be 2.77 inches above the
normal amount for those two months.
”We had a lot of rain in the
early part of the season, which reduced the need for
irrigation,“ Lesley said.
The wet spring resulted in Bureau officials changing
the water year type to ”below average,“ meaning more
water needed to be sent down the Klamath River for
threatened coho salmon and stored in Upper Klamath
Lake for endangered suckers. With the boost of
spring rain and the use of well water, pumped on
contract with the federal government, there was
enough water for irrigation this year.
The last day for irrigators
to order water will be on Oct. 13, Stuntebeck said.
On the Net: www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao.