Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Drop in aquifer affecting Merrill area 

by Sara Hottman, Herald and News 7/13/10
     At the beginning of July, the effects of limited surface water reached beyond farmers to the city of Merrill when the well pump fell short of the groundwater level for the first time in its 48-year existence, leaving residences and businesses without running water for days.
   More people drawing from groundwater dropped the aquifer’s water level between five and 15 feet from spring measurements, forcing the city to lower the well pump from 70 feet to 150 feet.  
   In some areas, levels dropped by as much as 20 feet, said Kyle Gorman, water manager for the state Water Resources Department regional office in Bend. Typically, the office notes 10 to 15 feet of change over a decade.
   “We fully anticipated a drop in the water table due to increased pumping,” Gorman said. But, he added, the department couldn’t determine how big a drop it would be.
   Aquifer levels are in constant flux, based on how much water used during the growing season is replaced during the wet months. In the Klamath Basin, aquifers depend largely on snowmelt.  
   Normally, Merrill’s water users go through 500,000 gallons daily during the summer and 180,000 gallons during the winter, said Brian Bicknell, Merrill city marshal.
   Small municipalities like Malin and Merrill depend on the regional Water Resources office in   Bend to monitor groundwater levels. The office doesn’t measure wells directly; it has observation wells that are networked with local wells, and the office measures those monthly or quarterly, Gorman said.
   Merrill city officials consulted with the regional office about how deep to extend the well, Gorman said.
   After a similar situation in Malin in 1991, the office has kept up-to-date well logs for Merrill and Malin, Gorman said, and has recently asked Klamath Falls for well information to make sure groundwater levels remain healthy.  
   A week after the water supply was replenished, Bicknell said, the aquifer was in good shape.
   “We should be good as far as depth,” Bicknell said. “It should sustain us through summer, then winter begins and the water tables rise again.”   


Home Contact


              Page Updated: Tuesday August 03, 2010 03:08 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2010, All Rights Reserved