Stimulus may help Klamath irrigation Locals have been lobbying two
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 2/11/09
The Klamath Basin could get funding for irrigation infrastructure
improvements and other irrigation projects as part of the economic
stimulus package being revised in Congress.
Versions of the stimulus bill passed by the House and Senate
include varying amounts — between $ 500 million and $1.4 billion —
for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The Senate voted 61-37 Tuesday
to approve the stimulus package, triggering an intense round of
late-night bargaining to hammer out a compromise.
Democratic leaders have pledged to have legislation on Obama’s
desk by mid-month.
It’s unclear how much the Bureau could receive in a final economic
stimulus bill, but part of the money could go to its Klamath
Reclamation Project, one of the three oldest projects in the
“There’s always aging infrastructure, there’s no question of
that,” said Dave Solem, director of Klamath Irrigation District.
The Bureau operates a number of irrigation projects across the
West. Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance, said
his organization began lobbying the U.S. departments of
Agriculture and Interior last April to include Bureau
infrastructure funding in economic stimulus packages.
The Basin is not explicitly named in any of Family Farm Alliance’s
requests, but Keppen said a portion calls for rehabilitating and
improving aging infrastructure operated by the Bureau.
As one of the nation’s oldest government-owned irrigation
projects, the Basin would fall under that umbrella.
“In the stimulus, we have the opportunity to take care of some
fixes,” Keppen said.
Bureau programs initiated in the Klamath Basin also could see
boosts in funding. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program,
or EQIP, and Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, or AWEP, are
programs developed in the region to provide matching federal
dollars for improvement and conservation projects by irrigators or
Keppen and Solem said there are hurdles.
Getting irrigation projects started can take a long time because
of permitting and environmental study requirements. Keppen said
that is why his organization also is pushing to streamline the
process. Solem said his organization would work with local Bureau
“There are a few projects, but the Bureau is going to have to
prioritize,” he said.
Kevin Moore, spokesman for the Bureau’s Klamath Falls office
declined to comment, saying a list of possible projects is still
“Any speculation about how any money would be utilized locally
would be premature until we receive more details,” he wrote in an