Klamath Basin water year looks promising
H&N by Gerry
It’s looking like there will be full deliveries of water to
the Klamath Basin water users, according to the Bureau of
something the Basin has not seen for at least the last four
years due to drought conditions both here and in Northern
Project water users are looking forward to a great water
year,” said Pablo Arroyave, Bureau of Reclamation’s
Mid-Pacific Acting regional director. “We are experiencing
the best hydrologic conditions since 2011, and it’s a
refreshing start for the irrigation season.”
announced its 2017 Klamath Project Operations Plan for
irrigators on Tuesday.
deputy area manager for the Basin area office, said it looks
as if there will be full delivery of water out of the three
reservoirs that serve the Project: Upper Klamath Lake,
Gerber and Clear Lake reservoirs. That means more than
200,000 acres of farmland in the project will have water
available to it.
“The only area
of concern is if we get a warming trend and the snowpack
melts too rapidly,” Cameron said. And, because this year has
ample supplies, next year should start off well, too,
Cameron said. “Whatever isn’t used this year, is stored in
Upper Klamath Lake to start off next year.”
Klamath Water Users Association director, said, “I think
after Monday night’s KWUA annual meeting, and irrigators
learning of a full allocation for the Klamath Project,
farmers are going to be planting as soon as possible. Fields
are still pretty saturated from the winter, but some are
trying to get seed in the ground in some cases.
think the farmers are chomping at the bit to get going. It’s
been a pretty long, but welcome, winter,” White said.
funding for what is known as Klamath Water and Power
Agency’s Water Use Mitigation Program or WUMP has ceased.
The program compensates irrigators who idle their land,
agreeing to not divert surface water to grow crops.
“Yes WUMP is
gone, but on a year like this, I don’t think there is any
desire to idle farm land,” White said.
Also of concern
the biological opinion — an overarching research document
that guides Reclamation’s water disbursement to protect
certainly concerned about upcoming consultation on the new
biological opinion that will dictate future Klamath Project
operations. Currently, there is no opportunity for water
users to be represented in that process,” White said.
“So, KWUA is
continuing to secure the opportunity to be engaged in that
process so all interests can be represented,” he said.
“Collaboration has been a successful model for solving
problems in the Klamath Basin and biological opinion
consultation should not be an exception to that.”
delivery plan is based upon the Natural Resources
Conservation Service inflow forecasts and current reservoir
elevations, according to a Bureau press release.
As of April 1,
the snowpack was 122 percent of average and the total
precipitation was 139 percent of average, the bureau said.
This is the first time the Klamath Basin has had a wet
winter since the release in 2013 of the biological opinion.
As of Tuesday
afternoon, Upper Klamath Lake had an elevation of 4,142.89
feet, which is equivalent to approximately 481,414 acre-feet
of storage, or 93 percent of full pool.
the bureau’s plan provides an estimate of the 2017 water
supply available for the Project and the Lower Klamath
National Wildlife Refuge, the volume of water to be released
to the Klamath River for Endangered Species Act-listed
threatened Coho salmon, and the volume of water to be
reserved in Upper Klamath Lake for ESA-listed endangered
Lost River and shortnose suckers.
The plan is
also used by agricultural water users, Klamath Basin tribes,
national wildlife refuge managers, and others as a tool to
meet their expected water needs.
for inflows to Upper Klamath Lake from April 1 to Sept. 30
is 615,000 acre-feet, about 128 percent of average inflow.
Under these conditions, the Project supply is expected to be
390,000 acre-feet, which is a full supply.
current lake levels and projected inflows for Clear Lake and
Gerber reservoirs the anticipated water supplies for the
2017 irrigation season are 35,000 acre-feet from Clear Lake
Reservoir and approximately 35,000 acre-feet from Gerber
Reservoir; both are are anticipated to provide 100 percent
of a full supply.
While no one
could speak to the groundwater aquifer, officials noted that
the abundance of rain and snowfall has likely helped
recharge underground reservoirs, too.
And, despite a
forecasted full supply, the plan encourages water
conservation to ensure available water throughout the
season, the release said.
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