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.


Lots of snow, but not much water

Published Feb. 9, 2004


January 2004 was a wetter month than the same month from a year ago, but the forecast for inflow to Upper Klamath Lake are just as grim as they were last year.

In its second forecast of the year, the Natural Resources Conservation Service predicts next summer's inflows to rivers, lakes and reservoirs around the Klamath Basin to be 83 percent of average.

Dave Solem, manager of the Klamath Irrigation District, said the forecast shows a heavy snowpack doesn't necessarily translate into a healthy streamflows.

"That isn't a good sign," he said. "We still need more precipitation."

Precipitation for the water year, which started Oct. 1, is 77 percent of average so far, according to the National Weather Service's station at Kingsley Field.

Across the Upper Klamath Basin, the mountain snowpack is at 126 percent of average, according to the Conservation Service.

Upper Klamath Lake's net inflow should be 425,000 acre-feet, or 83 percent of average, from April to September, according to the Conservation Service. Last year, it predicted an inflow of 74 percent of average for the same window.

Currently, the lake has 269,200 acre-feet of available water, according to the service. At this time last year, it had 350,900 acre-feet. The lake's capacity is 523,700 acre-feet.

Sprague River's inflow should be 160,000 acre-feet, or 70 percent of average, for April to September. The Williamson River should be 330,000 acre-feet, or 86 percent of average, for the same months.

The Bureau of Reclamation uses the Conservation Service's April 1 forecast to determine the water year type, which in turn guides how much water will be sent down stream, kept in the lake and diverted for irrigation.

Because of low inflows into the lake this winter, the Bureau has made an agreement with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries to reduce flows in the Klamath River. The cut means there will be more water in the lake, but the water level is still creeping up slowly.

Solem said it's too early to start predicting what the summer will be like. He said irrigators are hoping for some good precipitation in the next month and a half.

"But as time goes on, the window for moisture to come in gets narrower," he said.

On the net:



NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted
material  herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have
expressed  a  prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit
research and  educational purposes only. For more information go to:





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2004, All Rights Reserved