Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
TULELAKE - This year's water bank has a vault full
The answer to the first question could soon be at
hand - the deadline for land idling applications is
4 p.m. Thursday. Officials are cautiously optimistic
that a late surge in applications will yield enough
acreage to get the 50,000 acre-feet they planned
from the land idling program.
The answers to the other questions might not come
until the outlook of water for the irrigation season
comes into focus, he said.
The Bureau's water bank plan this year calls for
25,000 acre-feet from groundwater pumping, 10,000
acre-feet from the Klamath Rangeland Trust above
Upper Klamath Lake, and 15,000 acre-feet from
storage on national wildlife refuges. The remainder
would come from land idling.
what happens if the Bureau doesn't get the acreage
late December the Bureau announced it was taking
applications for the land idling program. By last
week it had received 25 applications, well below the
400 or 500 it expected by the Jan. 27 deadline.
Although officials said there usually is a flurry of
applications that come in just before the deadline,
the meager number of applications prompted them to
send staffers out to the field early this week.
The most common questions were about how much they
should bid, Birri said.
Even though she signed up for the program, she said
doesn't like the idea of increasing flows down the
river for fish.
Don "Will" Dalton, who lives in the Poe Valley, put
up 68 acres for bid to be idled. He said he runs a
hair salon and his wife is a school teacher, so they
don't rely on the farmland. By giving up the water
for some of his land, it could help a farmer he
Many came with questions and a few turned in
applications in Tulelake, Birri said. About 20
people turned in applications at the Klamath
Irrigation District Office Tuesday.
said the Bureau expects to announce whose
applications were accepted in mid-February.
For last year's water bank, which totaled 75,000
acre-feet, the Bureau signed contracts idling 4,364
acres. A total of 33,841 acres were offered by
farmers. Most of the for last year's water bank came
from wells. The idled acres yielded about 9,500
acre-feet of water.
Farmers who offered to idle fields last year
submitted bids ranging from $58 to $702 per acre,
according to the Bureau. Bids accepted by the Bureau
ranged from $63.75 to $200, with the average
successful bid coming in at $146.
The water bank program is required under a
biological opinion approved by NOAA-Fisheries to
protect threatened coho salmon in the lower Klamath
River. Water set aside in the water bank must be
available for use by April 1, said Irma Lagomarsino,
Arcata field office supervisor for NOAA-Fisheries.
Lagomarsino said there has been drought the last
four years in the Basin and this year there could be
On the Net: www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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