Officials are moving forward with long-term plans to convert the Long Lake Valley west of Klamath Falls into water storage.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation received approval to conduct a feasibility study of the area’s water storage capabilities. The study will cost $ 2 million and take three years, regional director Pablo Arroyave said.
The bureau also started the approval process needed for a water storage site.
Efforts to convert the valley into water storage have been ongoing for decades, but picked up in the recent months after visits with staff in Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office and with other state officials.
Could curtail shortages
Klamath County officials and others concerned with issues ranging from endangered fish species to irrigation advocated for the project because of its potential to curtail water shortages in the Klamath Basin such as the one that shut off irrigation water in 2001.
The valley is a popular choice because of its proximity to Upper Klamath Lake, as well as attributes that would make it an ideal reservoir. It also could hold the equivalent acre-feet of water that Upper Klamath Lake does, but with less surface area — thus reducing evaporative loss.
Work on the project is far in the future, with Klamath County Commissioner John Elliott saying that the earliest possible date to begin physical work on the site is in 2011. But Elliott said he is optimistic about the project and considers it one of the top priorities of the county.
“We’re going to have a lot of players in this one,” he said. “A lot of people involved.”