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Water program gives (Klamath) irrigators more options.
Changes include more land and better water control
  By LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 2/11/15
     Changes to Klamath Water and Power Agency WUMP policies will allow more irrigators to apply for the program and those who qualify could have more control over their water.

   The Water Use Mitigation Program (WUMP) policy updates were hammered out by KWAPA board members at a Tuesday work session.

   Irrigators who participate in WUMP “bid” an application by providing a dollar amount per acre they would like to be paid in return for not diverting water to grow crops. Under the “dry” land idling option, farmers do not irrigate with surface or groundwater. Under the WUMP “wet” option, an irrigator doesn’t receive surface water, but may have the option to draw from on-property wells.

In the past, the WUMP program has primarily been limited to Project irrigators contracted with the Bureau of Reclamation for “A” and “B” ground. “A” contracts receive priority deliveries; “B” contractors, known as Warren Act contractors, can have their water deliveries curtailed to provide full supplies for “A” contractors.

   This year, “C” irrigators — those who hold annual water rental agreements — can also apply for WUMP. According to KWAPA Executive Director Hollie Cannon, any land that is covered by the adjudication final order of determination map, or an exception to the final order map, is eligible for WUMP.

   KWAPA Board Member Ed Bair estimated that about 500 “C” contract acres exist in the Klamath Project. Although “C” acreage is last in line for water, like A and B land, it has a state-sanctioned 1905 water right, he said.

   “It’s a fairness issue more than anything else,” Bair said.  

   According to Cannon, in past years some WUMP landowners optioned for partial season irrigation. Cannon said that option is no longer available; instead, farmers can opt to sprinkler irrigate up to 6 inches through Sept. 30. He noted that irrigators who opt for this will be required to install a flow meter on their sprinkler pump.

   This option pays half of what a dry parcel would receive, according to Cannon.

   In addition, all applicants — whether A, B, or C ground — must also provide proof that their irrigation district operation and maintenance fees are up to date before KWAPA will make a payment.

   The WUMP application period is scheduled to be open from March 10 through April 10, according to Cannon. In 2015, awards for contracted acreage will be awarded based on when signed contracts are returned to the agency.

   According to Cannon, about $10 million is available for WUMP in 2015 — about $4 million less than last year. He said landowners who submit their applications first will have an opportunity to sign their contracts first. The time advantage could mean more available money for those who submit early contracts.  

   “That’s the advantage of getting an application in first,” Cannon said.

   Board members voted to remove the $500-per-acre penalty for violating the contract, which was instituted last year. Now, once landowners are signed into the program, violations mean they will not receive any payment from WUMP and will be penalized for staff time and liquidated damages, according to Cannon.

   Ed Bair said KWAPA board members will set the final program limits at the next board meeting, March 3.



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