The Bureau of Reclamation is predicting a water shortfall this summer for the thousands of farmers who rely on a vast federal irrigation network in the Klamath Basin.
The Cascade Mountains act as a water storage system for the high-desert basin, which straddles Oregon and California. But the mountain snowpack melted early this year, leaving less water available to recharge the watershed this summer.
The Bureau of Reclamation is predicting a water shortfall this summer for the thousands of farmers in Oregon’s Klamath Basin that rely on a vast federal irrigation network.
The agency is forecasting a late summer shortfall of 70,000 acre feet of water, or roughly 20 percent of the expected irrigation demand. The announcement comes at an awkward time: when many farmers already have crops in the ground.
Kevin Moore, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation, says an unusually warm spring has led to the projected shortfall. The Cascade Mountains act as a water storage system for the high-desert basin, but the mountain snowpack melted early this year, leaving less water available to recharge the Klamath watershed this summer.
Moore says the Bureau of Reclamation is asking farmers to do everything they can to conserve water.
One program, administered by the Klamath Water and Power Agency, would compensate farmers who choose not to plant, or let their crops die.
“Individuals would have the opportunity to receive funds and not receive water for the remainder of the year,” Moore says.
The funds are available for farmers growing alfalfa, hay, and grain, and the program will accept applications until June 1st.
Moore says that unless more farmers volunteer to idle their land, the bureau may have to start rationing. He says the bureau will monitor the situation until June 1st, and then decide how to manage its summer water deliveries.
“If we were to get some good storm systems in here, it would help us a great deal.”
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