Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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More water for Project irrigators
According to Terri Reaves Gilmore, deputy area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) Klamath Basin Area Office, a combination of improved hydrologic conditions and conservation efforts by Klamath Project water users, including voluntary land idling, has given the agency more flexibility in making water available to the Project’s Warren Act contractors.“At this time, BOR has determined that up to an additional three-quarter (.75) acre-feet of water per irrigable acre is available for delivery to Warren Act contractors,” Reaves Gilmore said in a statement. “This amount is in addition to the quarter (.25) acre-foot per acre that BOR made available in June.”
Fourteen irrigation districts and several individual contractors make up 59,948 acres of Warren Act land in the Klamath Project. According to BOR documents, Warren Act, or “B,” contractors receive water secondary to Klamath Project contractors who have “A” rights. Deliveries to Warren Act contractors are curtailed when water supplies cannot meet the demands of “A” irrigators.In April, the BOR announced that under the 2015 Drought Plan, Warren Act contractors would not receive any surface water this year. Rain events in May later helped Warren Act farmers get a small jump on this season’s crops, according to Enterprise Irrigation District Manager Shane McDonald. He said farmers with small lots, orchards and pastures and can capitalize on the bonus water.
“They’ll be able to get a decent second cutting (of alfalfa) if I can extend the water. Possibly a third cutting if the allocation can be extended through the beginning of September,” McDonald said.McDonald said in an effort to extend the water season, Enterprise will pump water July 21-28; Aug. 5-13; and Aug. 19 until the water allocation expires, which is estimated to occur Sept. 2. Water will not be available between these dates because the district’s system will be shut down for maintenance, he added.
Luke Robison, manager of Shasta View and Malin irrigation districts, said irrigators in his districts farm potatoes and cereal grains, but the vast majority of farmland is alfalfa. He said the extra water won’t irrigate any new acres, but it will be helpful to folks who already have crops in the works.“That’s three irrigations — one more cutting of alfalfa,” Robison said.
According to Reaves Gilmore, the BOR will continue coordinating with Project water users, and other stakeholders to seek out opportunities for increasing water availability for Project agricultural and national wildlife refuge lands.According to Gilmore, on July 19, Upper Klamath Lake was 62 percent full, with a volume of 317,395 acre-feet.
Last year on July 19, the lake was only 45 percent full, she said.To date, approximately 120,000 acrefeet has been diverted from Upper Klamath Lake to Project water users, according to Reaves Gilmore.
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