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Bureau: Only some irrigators get water
Just one-third of Project likely to have water this year
by JOEL ASCHBRENNER, Herald and News 3/14/12
Barring a drastic change in the weather, only one-third of the Klamath Reclamation Project will receive surface water for irrigation this year, officials said Tuesday.
As it stands now, enough water will be available for only irrigators with “A contracts,” those in the Klamath and Tulelake irrigation districts and the Van Brimmer Ditch Co., said Kevin Moore, spokesman with the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin area office.
So-called “B users,” those with younger water contracts in other irrigation districts, most likely won’t receive surface water.
Significant shortages likely
“If precipitation does not increase significantly over the next few months, significant water shortages are likely during the upcoming 2012 irrigation season,” said Bureau of Reclamation area manager Jason Phillips in a letter to irrigators.
The Bureau will have a better idea of how much water will be available in early April, Moore said. That’s when it plans to release its 2012 operations plan for the Klamath Project.
About 110,000 acres of the approximately 170,000-acre Klamath Project have “A contracts” for water, said Hollie Cannon, executive director of the Klamath Water and Power Agency.
To mitigate the expected water shortage, the agency has developed groundwater pumping and land idling programs, which, respectively, pay irrigators to pump well water or give up their water allocation for the year. Nearly 150 irrigators applied to pump well water. The deadline to apply for land idling is Friday.
“It’s our goal to get every acre wet that producers want to irrigate,” Cannon said.
Irrigators have been worried for months that 2012 would be a drought year. Snowpack in the region has not fully rebounded from an unusually dry stretch, when the Klamath Basin received virtually no precipitation between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Many hope heavy spring precipitation will improve the water forecast and make more water available for irrigation. That’s what happened in 2010, another drought year when B users were told they would not receive water. Heavy rains in May and June of that year increased flows to Upper Klamath Lake and provided additional water for irrigators, Cannon said.


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