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Governor’s trip is about Basin’s water shortage

Herald and News by Ty Beaver 6/8/10

     Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski will be in the Klamath Basin Thursday to visit with local officials about the region’s water woes and tour a local farm that is operating despite the water shortage.


   It would be Kulongoski’s second visit to the Basin since officials with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation determined they would not be able to fulfill all water demands from irrigators on the Klamath Reclamation Project.


   Those with the governor said the visit is part of Kulongoski’s continued commitment to the region. Those in the Basin said they’re eager to show the governor how the region is faring and press for ongoing state support.  


   “It’s just a great opportunity,” said Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. “You don’t often have the governor around.”


   Upper Klamath Lake is at historic lows, and precipitation and inflow to the lake are below normal. As a result, the Bureau said it would provide only 150,000 acre-feet of water from the lake to irrigators on the Klamath Reclamation Project. That amount of water would only be about a third of what typically is delivered to the Project annually.


   Water is only flowing to the Klamath and Tulelake irrigation districts and Van Brimmer Ditch Co. on the Project, leaving some irrigation districts without any surface water resources.  


   The governor first visited the region in March, when he met with federal, state and local officials about the shortage and heard from others affected by a potential water shutoff.


   He spoke then of visiting the region during the irrigation season.


   “This was the first opportunity in his schedule to make a trip,” said Anna Richter-Taylor, Kulongoski’s spokeswoman.


   The governor’s first stop will be at the Bureau’s offices on Washburn Way to discuss the water shortage and current drought conditions in the Basin.


   “Reclamation looks forward to updating the governor on the current water situation,” said Rick Stahan, the Bureau’s deputy area manager for its Klamath Basin office. “He has been a valuable partner in the ongoing efforts to address the impacts the current drought has had on the Basin.”


   Kulongoski also will visit Carleton Farms in Merrill. The farm grows potatoes, wheat and alfalfa and has cattle. The governor’s visit will provide an opportunity to show how it’s using groundwater to make things work, Jim Carleton said.


   “We’ve done quite a few things and gotten creative on how to survive a water shutoff,” he said.

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              Page Updated: Thursday June 10, 2010 11:30 AM  Pacific

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