Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Counting on every drop of irrigation water
By BRIAN COLE
Still, most irrigators in Klamath, Lake, Modoc and
eastern Siskiyou counties expect to have enough
water for this year's growing season.
Klamath County watermaster Del Sparks said
irrigation water should be available in the
county, at least until later in the year when
water levels are expected to be low.
"Most of the spring runoff has soaked into the
ground, which means the springs feeding the river
should be ample, at least until late in the
season," he said.
Jerry Wendland, watermaster for the South Fork
Irrigation District, said water flows are about
300 acre-feet per minute. He expects that to
Last year, there was only about 14,700 acre-feet
in the reservoir, and the level did not reach
20,000 acre-feet until June.
About 11 ranchers use the water to raise alfalfa
and pasture grasses. There is some cultivation of
rice, garlic and onions, too.
Irrigator Peter Gerig, who has units of ownership
in the Big Valley Mutual Water Co., said water
levels in the reservoir are the best they have
been in the last five years.
The water, which eventually pours into the Pit
River, is used on an as-needed basis by area
The Butte Valley Irrigation District, based in
Macdoel, uses well water which is piped to its 20
or so water users, along with water from Butte
Water users grow alfalfa and grain, and strawberry
nurseries raise plants which are sold to
system was built over a period of years. Drainage
ditches collect excess irrigation water, which
from there pours into Meiss Lake.
These regions have 11,500 acres of alfalfa and
pasture grasses that are irrigated by the Drews
Reservoir (62,500 acre-feet capacity) and
Cottonwood Reservoir (9,300 acre-feet).
"We expect to have enough water for the entire
growing season," Cobian said. Water rights from
the state stipulate that they may use the water
only until the end of September.
Thompson Reservoir, with an 18,000-acre-foot
capacity, is about two-thirds full, enough for the
entire season, said Tom O'Leary, member of the
district board of directors.
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