Water just needs to melt for irrigators
The question is not if the water is coming, but when
By DD BIXBY, Herald and News 5/4/08
While farmers say irrigation water is always a concern in the Klamath Basin, the concern this year is not if, but when water will come.
The National Resources Conservation Service is reporting an average water year — the Basin’s snow pack is about 98 percent for the year — however, the average snow pack as of May 1 is 158 percent of what it was this time last year.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials say the water is there — it just hasn’t melted down from higher elevations yet.
The spring has been colder than expected so there isn’t much need for irrigation yet.
Local farmer Mike Noonan said because of the lower temperatures, many plants are still in dormant stages, and irrigating is premature.
Klamath Irrigation District Manager Dave Solem said the demand in his district was low for this time of year, with f low rate at the A Canal at below 500 cubic feet per second. Solem also attributed the low numbers to the weather, but he expected the demand to pick back up with a few consecutive sunny days.
Harr y Carlson, University of California’s Intermountain Research and Extension Center director, said they were enjoying a warmer day Thursday, but it had been a tough spring.
There is some irrigating across the state line.
Tulelake Irrigation District manager Jerry Pyle said the demand in his district was about 312 cubic feet per second for about 9,000 acres.
According to this week’s water report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, both minimums for the biological opinions on the Upper Klamath Lake and at the Iron Gate Dame have been met.
The Upper Klamath Lake levels are at 4,142.74 feet, and the minimum as approved by the April 2008 new biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls for a minimum level of 4,142.2 feet by April 30.
Flow rates below the lake at Iron Gate Dam are determined by the National Marine Fisheries Service 2002 biological opinion calls for April minimums to be at 2,850 cubic feet per second. The f low rate on Monday was 2,910 cfs.
Currently, the Bureau is managing water under an interim plan that mixes a 2008 and 2002 management plan because it is waiting on the second biological opinion from the National Marine Fisheries Service, which may change the minimum f lows at Iron Gate Dam for Coho salmon.
There is still no release date for the second biological opinion.