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$10.3 million in drought relief OK'd

The federal Office of Management and Budget has signed off on about $10.3 million in emergency drought relief for on-Project irrigators in the Klamath Basin.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) returned to Klamath Falls Thursday afternoon from a visit to Lakeview to make the announcement to a roomful of irrigators and irrigation representatives at the Klamath Water Users Association office.

The top-level approval frees up the funds for the Bureau of Reclamation to issue a proposal to distribute the money to on-Project irrigators, Walden said. A proposal from Reclamation could be released as early as Friday or on Monday at the latest, according to Walden. The money is slated to fund pumping, land idling, and disaster relief.

“This is big news because this could have taken much longer to get through process and they (Office of Management and Budget) really doubled down and got it done,” Walden said.

“The next chapter in this story of getting the disaster help into the Basin will come from the Bureau of Reclamation,” Walden added. “It’s pretty good news in an otherwise kind of bad news series here.”

Reclamation officials were not on hand at the meeting, but Walden said officials are discussing a working proposal with water user representatives on how to implement funds.

“They understand the importance and the dire situation we’re in and the need to move as rapidly as possible on the water,” Walden said. “I know they’re working and I know they’re working in good faith, and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on the work plan as well.”

Brad Kirby, president of KWUA, said water users prior to Walden’s visit on Thursday were discussing the path forward for irrigators.

“We’re trying to figure out how to survive through May,” Kirby said. “That’s basically where we’re at.”


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              Page Updated: Saturday May 05, 2018 12:34 PM  Pacific

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