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Bureau study says Long Lake is solid on the bottom

Published March 30, 2004


If water were pumped into the Long Lake Valley it wouldn't leak from the bottom, according to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

"It would provide a foundation for storage of water," said Rae Olsen, spokeswoman for the Bureau's Klamath Falls office.

The Long Lake Valley northwest of Klamath Falls has long been talked about as a potential spot for a reservoir. Bureau scientists took soil samples in the study that began in October and concluded in December.

Olsen said the scientists have found that the bottom of the valley is impermeable, meaning it should be able to hold water.

Olsen said the scientists need to study how well slopes on the side of the valley hold water - early data shows the walls allow more seepage as they rise from the valley floor. Because budgets are already filled out for fiscal years 2005 and 2006, the report would need to be part of the 2007 budget, she said.

The report on the valley's sides would be part of an extensive scientific survey to determine the feasibility of storing water in the valley, Olsen said. The report would cost several million dollars.

If the valley is found to be a good place to store water, construction could begin after 2010.

The Klamath Tribes, Klamath Water Users Association, Tulelake Growers Association and more than 20 other groups - including five counties in Southern Oregon and Northern California - have drafted letters in support of such a study.

In December, Reclamation Project Manager Dave Sabo said a full-blown study of the Long Lake idea would take three to four years and cost $8 million to $10 million. At the time, Sabo said creating the reservoir would cost more than half a billion dollars.

Olsen said the new report should change the expected cost of the project, but by how much won't be known until the extensive study is complete.

"Until then it is all unscientific, wild guesses," she said.


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