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 http://www.heraldandnews.com/articles/2006/01/18/news/local_news/local44.txt

Bureau accepting water bank applications

January 18, 2006, by STEVE KADEL, Herald and News

Irrigators who want to take part in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's water bank next summer have one more month to file applications.

The agency must acquire 100,000 acre-feet of water in the Klamath River Basin upstream from Keno Dam to use during the irrigation season.

A 2002 National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration biological opinion requires the water bank in order to boost Klamath River flows for threatened coho salmon. Bids are now being taken for dryland and groundwater substitution options for the 2006 bank.

For dryland operation, the bureau seeks applicants willing to forego irrigating their land in exchange for payment. Groundwater substitution allows surface water irrigation from canals except when the bureau requests a shift to water from an irrigator's private well.

Jon Hicks of the Bureau of Reclamation said the latter is a change from earlier years when groundwater from wells was substituted for surface water throughout the irrigation season.

The method of payment will change, too. Participants in the groundwater substitution option used to be paid a flat fee for the entire season. Beginning this summer, the bureau will make payments based on the documented amount of groundwater that is pumped.

Payment will cover the irrigator's cost to pump groundwater, Hicks said. However, it's possible the bureau might not request a groundwater substitution during the entire irrigation season. No payment would be made if that happens.

Individuals, groups of people, partnerships and companies can participate in the water bank program if their fields are above Keno Dam and have been irrigated in one of the past three years. Only fields of at least 20 contiguous acres are eligible.

Applications should be received at the bureau's Klamath Basin area office, 6600 Washburn Way, Klamath Falls, OR 97603, by 4 p.m. on Feb. 16. Details are available from the area office at 883-6935.

Applicants may make an appointment to discuss their situation with a bureau representative before submitting a bid.

Hicks noted that participants must register with the federal government as part of their application. The Web site address is included in application packets.

Program information, application forms and a sample contract are included on the Klamath Basin area office's Web site at: www.usbr. gov/mp/kbao.

A total of 234 water bank applications were submitted to the bureau office in Klamath Falls last year.

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