outside of the Klamath Reclamation Project are
optimistic this water year, while most still need
late-season precipitation to provide enough water
for a full season.
The outlook varies for
irrigation districts in Lake, Modoc and Siskiyou
South Fork Irrigation
Water users in the South Fork Irrigation District
near Likely, Calif., are looking at a dry year
with 14,000 acre-feet of water in West Valley
Reservoir, an irrigation source that has a 23,000
acre foot capacity for the district, which covers
approximately 12,900 acres.
"Right now (March 28) I've only got 14,000 acre
foot of water in the reservoir," said Jerry
Wendland, water master for the district. "So we
have to shut our diversion ditch off (from the
South Fork of the Pit River) on about the 15th of
April, and that will probably put another 1,000
foot of water out of there."
Water users in the
district grow mostly hay and some rice with most
of the water going to hay production. There are 11
water users in the district who will begin
utilizing water from the reservoir on the first of
"It's not good. I'm 3,000 acre-feet below West
Valley reservoir - below what I had last year,"
Wendland said. "Last year was the best year, and
I've been with this outfit for four years. It was
the best year we'd had."
Water users in the South Fork Irrigation District
also use some private wells and a well managed by
"We'll probably use our district well for the big
share of the season to conserve our water that's
in the reservoir," Wendland said. "It doesn't
contribute that much, but it's a big help."
Wendland said the
irrigators in the district have managed with less
water but said it isn't easy.
"We've gotten by before," Wendland said. "It's
just a lot tougher. They could run out before the
Big Valley Mutual Water Company
The outlook is fairly
optimistic for the Big Valley Mutual Water
Company. Irrigators with Big Valley use water from
Roberts Reservoir and the South Fork of the Pit
River to irrigate about a thousand acres of mainly
alfalfa and pasture grass.
Peter Gerig, who regulates the headgate for Big
Valley, said flow into the reservoir last week
looked good with the recent stormy weather.
"For right at this
time of year it's running in pretty good because
we've had storms down here the last few days,"
Gerig said when he checked on the reservoir around
March 28 it was down 28 inches from running out of
the spill way. He estimated the reservoir, which
has a capacity of 5,500 acre-feet, was
approximately three-quarters full.
"Last year it came to
about a foot of filling," Gerig said. "I don't
know as it will fill, but we're not going to be in
too bad a shape with the reservoir."
For now, Big Valley water users are waiting on the
"It's not looking too
bad at the present time," Gerig said. "We'll see
what this weather does. Right now our runoff is
running really good. But we don't know what the
weather's going to do."
But there's still time for Roberts Reservoir to
"Normally we don't take any out before July,"
Lakeview Water Users
Lakeview Water Users are hoping for some late
season precipitation during a year that has seen
little rain and snow. The district covers 11,514
acres with 126 irrigators drawing water from Drews
and Cottonwood reservoirs for hay and pasture.
"It doesn't look very good," said George Cobian,
Lakeview Water Users manager. "We have about 40
percent of our water.
"We hope we can get at least 50 percent."
Timing and weather could change the outlook a bit
for the district.
"We are in the time of year where we can get a big
storm," said David Poe, Lake County Water Master.
Drews Reservoir, which holds approximately 62,500
acre-feet, was at under 15,000 acre-feet last week
said Cobian, while Cottonwood, which holds about
9,300 acre-feet, had a little over 5,000.
Conditions this year are drier said Cobian. And
with no snow pack to rely on, the irrigation
season could be cut short.
"Last year we had a full irrigation season,"
Cobian said. "We'll be done in the middle of
summer - first of August. Hopefully we can get
The district doesn't set a date for water
deliveries, Cobian said, members call when they're
ready for deliveries and he's hoping irrigators in
the district won't need to start until after the
first of May.
Hot Springs Valley
Conditions for the Hot Springs Valley Irrigation
District near Alturas are looking dry and
irrigators are anticipating that there might not
be enough water to last the entire irrigation
season. The district draws water from Big Sage
Reservoir which supplies water to approximately 30
irrigators for hay and pasture use.
"The reservoir that we store water in during the
winter months is quite low," said Willy Hagge, a
rancher and past director of the irrigation
district. "We're looking at a short water year for
this irrigation season."
"At Big Sage, in order to have a normal supply of
water in the reservoir for a normal irrigation
season, we need about 18,000 acre-feet," Hagge
said. "As of March 12 there was 12,000 feet in the
reservoir with no snowpack remaining in the
mountains. It would take a pretty significant
The additional runoff from storms could help,
Hagge said, but relief from spring precipitation
may not materialize.
"Although, there is still potential for a storm to
come along and help us out. But it's pretty late
in the season."
In order to make every drop of water count, Hagge
said, communication between the irrigators and the
district this year will be important.
"The biggest emphasis by the irrigation district
will be for everyone in the district to do a
tremendous amount of coordinating for water use,"
Hagge said. "So that we are very efficient in its
A combination of improvements, a new well and a
completed pipeline system, within the Butte Valley
Irrigation District are providing for an
optimistic outlook for irrigators.
"I think we're OK. The water table is down a
little bit, but the way winter has been, we're
setting okay," said Joe Sammis, water master for
the Butte Valley Irrigation District.
The irrigation season began last week in Butte
Valley for the district's 20 water users. The
district supplies water for 5,500 acres used to
grow hay, grain and strawberry plants.
"We have a lot of nursery strawberries in the
district," Sammis said. "They're all growing
nursery strawberry plants and then hay and grain
growers. We don't have any potatoes any more."
In previous years the district has had to deal
with a dropping water table and dry wells. Last
year the district added a new well to its system
which went on line last fall. Piping throughout
the district has helped the district meet
irrigators' needs, too.
"The last two years we've had a few dry wells that
have pulled down where we couldn't use them,"
Sammis said, "but our district now is all under
pipeline. We're not running open ditches.
"It's worked, we're saving water and we're able to
deliver water to all of our growers because of the
pipelines. If we were still running open ditches
we'd be in trouble."
Developing the network of pipelines to improve the
Butte Valley Irrigation District didn't happen
"The district started putting pipe in in the '40s
and just finished last year. Every grower in the
district is on pipeline," Sammis said.
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