K l a m a t h C o u nt y commissioners are considering a lake bed as a possible storage site to augment water supplies in the Basin.
They plan to tour the site, called Long Lake, in June with an official from Gov. Ted Kulongoskiís office. County officials have studied the site for years with the intent to develop it as a reservoir to meet both agricultural and biological water needs in the Klamath Basin.
Long Lake lies west of Klamath Falls, north of Keno and southwest of Upper Klamath Lake. It is an intermittent lake that goes from an open valley to varying depths of water depending upon rainfall and snowmelt.
Janet Brown, the governorís regional coordinator for central Oregon, asked about the status of a feasibility study on the lakeís potential as a reservoir.
C ou nt y c om m i s - sioner John Elliott said the study, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, hasnít been released yet, but the site has potential as a reservoir based on soil samples and other data. Without any improvements, Elliott said the site could hold about 350,000 acre-feet of water.
The commissioners said developing a water storage site to complement Upper Klamath Lake is crucial to the Basin. Having a reservoir would help the region meet both the needs of irrigators as well as those of endangered fish species in the Klamath River.
The Upper Klamath can hold more than 4 0 0,0 0 0 acre -feet of water. There are years when excess water is available, but with no storage site must be sent downriver. The lakeís large area and shallow depth lead to more evaporation and warmer water temperatures.
Challenges to developing the site still need to be worked out, commissioners said. Two or three different entities, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, own the lake bed and the land surrounding it, and negotiations would be necessary to secure the land needed, Elliott said.
Another issue is where to pump stored water when it is needed. Long Lakeís potential depth would lend to the availability of colder water that is more ideal to fish in the Klamath River. Commissioners said they would rather have the water pumped back into the Upper Klamath to help the lake meet depth requirements set by the federal government but would warm the water before it entered the river.