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Lake levels at record low
Outlook for irrigators varies in different parts of the Project
BY JILL AHO, Herald and News 3/5/2010
Lake levels in Upper Klamath Lake, which supplies the majority of irrigation supplies for the Klamath Reclamation Project, set record lows so far this year, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
Inflows to the lake have been very slow, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service is predicting water will flow into the lake at about 61 percent of average from March through July. The NRCS reported last month that the Basin received 82 percent of normal precipitation in January, the lowest in Southern Oregon.
The Basin also is posting the lowest total precipitation in the state for the water year, which began Sept. 1.
Varies by location
The current outlook for irrigation is not the same throughout the Project, said Kevin Moore, spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation.
Those irrigators connected to Gerber Reservoir will get close to a full year of irrigation supplies, Moore said. Those who get water from Clear Lake, who saw their irrigation cut off early last year, are likely to see limited supplies again this year, Moore said.
Upper Klamath Lake ended the year with limited storage and has experienced slow inflows.
“All of this coupled with the forecasted inflows predict a difficult irrigation season with late and limited water availability,” he said.
March not a wet month
Historically, March is not a wet month in Klamath County. Using Klamath Falls records, National Weather Service Data Acquisition Program Manager Chuck Glaser said the odds of getting more than 3 inches of snowfall in one day in March this year are about one in four.
“It certainly can happen, but the odds are a lot less than in February and on back,” he said. It’s happened 15 times since 1948. April’s odds for snow get even worse, he said.
Weather Service records show so far Klamath Falls has 3.79 inches of total precipitation for the water year, which is 3.91 inches below normal. Last year also was below normal at this time. The precipitation figures resemble those from 2000 and 2001. In the 1999-2000 water year, the Weather Service recorded 3.5 inches by this time and in 2000-01, there were 3.77 inches of precipitation recorded.
Historically, March only brings about 1.17 inches of precipitation. The most ever recorded on a single March day was less than one inch of rain.
Page Updated: Sunday March 07, 2010 01:12 PM Pacific
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