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Turnabout: Enough water for all

June 28, 2005 by DYLAN DARLING

A wet spring has washed away concern about tight water supplies this growing season.

"We don't anticipate any problems in deliveries," said Rae Olsen, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Klamath Falls office.

About halfway through the growing season, the Klamath Reclamation Project's main source of water, Upper Klamath Lake, is almost full to the brim. Measured from sea level, the lake level was at 4,142.8 feet. Full is 4,143.3 feet above sea level.

After a winter that left little snowpack in the mountains that ring the Klamath Basin, federal officials were worried that inflows into the lake would be low.

Along with irrigation, the lake supplies water for threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River and endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake. The federal forecast was for a tight year.

That's changed with the rains that began in April.

"It's significantly improved over what we thought it was going to be," Olsen said.

April brought 1.79 inches of precipitation, more than an inch more than normal, and May had 2.46 inches of precipitation, almost an inch more than the norm.

The Project's irrigation season typically runs from early April to mid-October. The wet spring not only added to the Project's supply, but also delayed demand from irrigators.

"It pretty much ended irrigation for a month," said Dave Solem, manager of the Klamath Irrigation District.

For some, the delay in demand was because fields were too wet to plant. Others, were simply letting the clouds do their watering for them.

Now, with water seemingly in line, growers want warm weather, Solem said.

And, it looks like that is what is in store. Highs from Wednesday on this week should be above 80 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.





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