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Report forecasts good water supply by summer
Upper Klamath Lake flows predicted to be above normal in April
by SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 1/15/11
The National Resources Conservation Service forecasts plenty of water in Upper Klamath Lake by the summer, according to the first snowpack report of the season.
The agency tracks snow accumulation at 15 sites around the Klamath Basin to estimate how much water bodies will be replenished.
According to the report, by the time the water year begins in April, Upper Klamath Lake
flows will be 116 percent of normal, Gerber Reservoir will be 129 percent of normal, and the Williamson River will be 117 percent of normal.
Irrigators, tribes, wildlife refuges, and other water users that depend on water deliveries from the federal Bureau of Reclamation hope snowpack remains above average, since at least 75 percent of summer water supply comes from winter snowpack, said Jon Lea, NRCS snow survey supervisor for Oregon.
As snow that accumulated in the winter melts in the summer, it replenishes surface water. The more snow in the winter, the more surface water will be available in the summer.
“We have a lot of confidence the lake is in good shape going through the end of February,” said Jason Phillips, the new BOR area manager for the Klamath Reclamation Project.
Last winter was 39 percent drier than average, causing a water shortage that distributed to Klamath Reclamation Project irrigators less than half of their normal water allotment and left refuges dry.
BOR stores water in Upper Klamath Lake and releases it down the Klamath River to fulfill biological opinions regulating lake depth and river flow, intended to protect endangered sucker and coho salmon.
Upper Klamath Lake can hold up to 523,700 acre feet of water, a maximum elevation of 4,143.3 feet. As of Friday afternoon, it was at 4,141.14 feet. An acre foot is a volume of water one acre in surface area and one foot deep.
A National Fish and Wildlife Service biological opinion requires the lake elevation be 4,141.5 feet by the end of February. Through the irrigation season, April through September, BOR must meet targets from 4,141 feet in April to 4,137.5 feet in September.
Page Updated: Monday January 17, 2011 02:54 AM Pacific
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