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Bureau looks wider for water bank accounts

Published Jan. 18, 2004


The size of the Klamath Reclamation Project water bank will rise to 75,000 acres in 2004, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says it will solicit farmers from outside the project.

Participation will be open to all users of surface water above Keno Dam, except for those on federal lease lands.

"The main difference this year is we are expanding the base of people who want to participate," said Jeff McCracken, Bureau spokesman.

The water bank is a requirement of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service's biological opinion for the project. The opinion guides what the Bureau needs to do to protect threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River.

This year, opinion calls for a water bank of 75,000 acre-feet. Last year, it was 50,000 acres.

McCracken said irrigators who have water rights they can forgo or groundwater they can pull up can apply.

"It doesn't rely solely on the project this year," McCracken said.

Last year the Bureau paid $187.50 per acre to users who idled land and $75 per acre-foot of water to those who switched to groundwater. The expense totaled $4 million, and that will increase to $7 million this year.

This year, the Bureau will take bids from those wanting to be a part of the water bank.

The price bid per acre, combined with estimated water savings based on crop and soil types, will be used to rank applications by price per acre-foot of water. The Bureau will select applications reflecting the lowest cost per acre-foot.

Bid and application materials are being mailed to those who applied for the 2003 water bank. An application information sheet and a final bid and application form are available at the Bureau's Klamath Basin Area Office at 6600 Washburn Way in Klamath Falls and online at: www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao.

The application period for the water bank starts on Monday. All applications must be received in the Klamath Basin Area Office no later than 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 6.





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