Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Klamath Project water flows, farmers press on

A 16-acre onion field near Merrill gets its first watering of the year Tuesday afternoon. Grower Dan Chin started the irrigation to keep high winds from eroding the soil. Last year irrigators had no need to water their fields until May due to abundant precipitation.

Published April 28, 2004


Klamath Project water is flowing, and at least some growers are optimistic that water won't be shut off, as it nearly was last June.

Regardless of how optimistic growers may, or may not be, most have pressed on and are planting crops as in years past.

Steve Kandra gets his water from the Tulelake Irrigation District, and has been irrigating with Project water for the past two weeks.

"By the end of the week we will have watered our entire field," Kandra said Monday. "At this time last year we hadn't even started."

There was a lot of precipitation in April 2003, so irrigators didn't have to water their fields that month. Plus, some growers would have had difficulty getting their machinery into the muddy fields.

"This year, we've had to get out and irrigate," Kandra said. "If you don't plant, you don't eat, you go hungry."

Most decisions about what to plant were made in February, Kandra said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials hope a new incremental management plan will help avoid the kind of problems that can result from the more rigid water level requirements of past years.

As reported last week in the Herald and News, the Bureau no longer has minimum lake levels it must achieve at certain points during the summer. Instead, the Bureau's lake level targets will slide up and down according to how much water is flowing into the lake as the season progresses.

Under the old system, end-of-month lake level requirements for the summer were set early in the year, when the Bureau established the water year type.

When inflow failed to meet predictions, as it did last June, the Bureau determined at one point it would have to shut down irrigation for at least five days in order to make a minimum lake level - although it did not.

"Currently operating on the new incremental management plan, we expect to meet target lake elevation at the end of the month," said Rae Olsen, Bureau spokeswoman. "The inflow is say about 1,755 cubic feet per second, which qualifies as a below-average water year.

"Warmer temperatures are helping get the snow from the mountains into the lake."

Basin grower Ed Bair said he began planting his grains and alfalfa April 10 and will finish this month. He will plant his potatoes later this month.

"There isn't 100 percent reliability (of water supply), but you have to plant anyway," Bair said. "You're either in this game or you quit and do something else."

Merrill grower Dan Chin is optimistic about his grain crops.

"Grain prices look good right now, that's a promising crop," said Chin, who grows white wheat and red wheat.

Chin's onions, which are under contract by a food manufacturer, are planted, and have started poking through the soil.

"Water prospects look decent, so we're planting the same as last year," Chin said.

Kandra said decisions regarding what and how much to plant must be made no later than February or March in order for seed to arrive at the time of planting.


NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted
material  herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have
expressed  a  prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit
research and  educational purposes only. For more information go to:






Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

Copyright klamathbasincrisis.org, 2004, All Rights Reserved