Long Lake studies under way
The Bureau of Reclamation is proceeding with a feasibility study that could lead to long-term water storage at Long Lake.
Pablo Arroyave, the agency’s Klamath Project area manager, discussed details of the possible venture Thursday during the Klamath River Compact Commission’s meeting. He said three-year funding to complete the study is in hand.
“ The challenge then becomes getting (congressional) funding,” he said, with an attempt possible in 2010 or 2011.
Cost estimates for developing Long Lake range from $250 million to $500 million.
Jon Hicks, Reclamation’s Klamath Project planning division chief, cautioned that the numbers a re specu lative. Exact figures won’t be determined until the project is further along.
Long Lake, just west of Upper Klamath Lake’s outlet has been studied as a possible storage site since 1987. However, water storage wasn’t considered vital in those days, Arroyave said.
“It was not a savvy thing to do,” he said. “Now, additional storage is widely accepted as critical, especially in the Klamath Basin.”
Storage is needed to provide enough water for irrigators and for federal flow requirements for endangered salmon and suckers.
Current storage is in Upper Klamath Lake. However, there’s considerable evaporation because of the large surface area, and the water is warm because the lake is no deeper than 8 feet.
In contrast, Long Lake would have less evaporation. It also might provide colder water that fish thrive on.
Hicks said geological drilling conducted two and a half years ago indicated the lake bed could hold 350,000 acre-feet of water without being porous. Depth would be about 160 feet.
BOR is running on a fast track with the project due to the 2000 Klamath Basin Water Enhancement Act.
That gave authority to do a feasibility study
without congressional approval, which is usually
Compact commission member Phil Ward, director of the Oregon Water Resources Department, applauded Reclamation for its work.
“It’s impressive to see how the bureau has moved on this in an expeditious manner,” he said. “We all share the view that additional storage is needed in the Basin.”
Arroyave said it doesn’t have to be Reclamation that builds the facility, although whoever tackles the project will have to do lots of homework.
“To get funding, you’re going to have to have a well thought out project,” he said.