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Keep Long Lake storage project moving

Published April 1, 2004

The proposal to add water storage at Long Lake deserves a push.

The Bureau of Reclamation announced a key finding this week when it said that a study had found the bottom on the dry lake northwest of Klamath Falls will hold water. The lake area is separated from Upper Klamath Lake by a ridge, and could hold an estimated 350,000 acre-feet of water. The water would be pumped to Long Lake from Upper Klamath, leaving room in Upper Klamath for more storage. As it's released from Long Lake, water would flow through turbines, generating power to be sold to partially recover the costs involved.

Next to be determined for Long Lake is whether the slopes on Long Lake's sides can also hold water. Proponents have talked about a 200-foot deep reservoir.

The Bureau of Reclamation says the earliest it can get a study into the budget would be for the 2007 fiscal year, which starts in July of 2006. If all went well - and that's not guaranteed - construction could start after 2010. A time line of six or seven years on such a project would be great, but a number of things have to happen first - all of them good.

The studies have to show that the area will hold water, that the project's cost is justified and the project is the best way to spend that much money in the Basin.

More storage could be a big part of the answer for Klamath Basin water ills, but won't solve them all. Obviously, there has to be something to store before additional storage means something and in true drought years - or a succession of them - that won't happen.

But there are going to be years when a project such as this could make a huge difference, maybe even save Klamath Basin agriculture and endangered fish.

The proposal has attracted wide support from organizations and counties in the upper and lower Klamath basins. Let's keep it moving.

The "H&N view" represents the opinion of the newspaper's editorial board, which consists of Publisher John Walker, Editor Tim Fought, City Editor Todd Kepple and Opinion Editor Pat Bushey.


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