Drought plan: Parks may go brown
March 10, 2005
By DYLAN DARLING
Parks and cemeteries
in Klamath Falls will be going brown this summer
in an effort to keep fields in the Klamath
Reclamation Project green.
Dry conditions have prompted federal officials
to implement a drought plan for the Project. The
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation put the plan into
effect Wednesday with letters to 20 irrigation
districts that use canal water diverted from
Upper Klamath Lake.
"The Bureau of
Reclamation hereby provides you notice that it
is implementing the Drought Plan due to
continued drought conditions in the Upper
Klamath Basin," the letter stated. "If these
conditions persist, a deficiency in irrigation
water supplies may be expected."
The letter was stamped by Dave Sabo, Project
According to the
plan, which was approved in March 1991,
irrigation districts and other water users are
put into three priority categories. Top priority
is for the Klamath Irrigation District and the
Tulelake Irrigation District, including lease
lands on national wildlife refuges.
Second priority goes to smaller irrigation,
drainage and improvement districts, such as
Enterprise Irrigation District, Malin Irrigation
District and Shasta View Improvement District.
The plan calls for those districts to figure out
how to get by with less water this irrigation
"We are asking them
to come up with a scheme to keep as many of them
whole as possible," said Christine Karas, deputy
manager of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's
Klamath Falls office. The districts have until
March 26 to get back to the Bureau.
The drought plan calls for Bureau officials to
develop a water management plan. by early April.
Last in priority
under the Bureau's drought plan are "temporary
water rental contracts," which are signed each
year. Areas that rely on temporary contracts
include several city parks, cemeteries and
The last time water was shut off to parks was
2001. That year the federal government curtailed
water to the Project, sparking a summer of
protests at the A Canal's headgates.
cemeteries that will be dry or close to it this
summer include Kit Carson Park, Linkville
Cemetery and Moore Park, said John Bellon, parks
supervisor for Klamath Falls.
Moore Park does get some irrigation from the
city's domestic water system, but the water is
more expensive than lake water.
"We do have city
water," Bellon said, "but the supply isn't
enough to do a sufficient job of water the park.
"We just use it as a stopgap measure."
Park employees also
have to be careful that watering a Moore Park
doesn't affect water service to residents along
In 2001, Klamath Falls parks were a patchwork of
green and yellow, Bellon said.
Karas said she
didn't have numbers for how many acres had
temporary contracts this year, but there were
6,191 acres in 2004. Some of those acres only
took a little water or used it in the fall.
In all, there are 210,000 irrigated acres in the
Project, according to the Bureau.
Many of the parks
and other temporary contract holders have other
sources of water, Karas said.
"It is not like every park and cemetery will dry
up," she said.
the drought plan comes after months of dropping
streamflow forecasts. The last streamflow
forecast was for 52 percent of average water to
flow into Upper Klamath Lake from April through
And the next forecast, which will come out in
mid-March, will probably be worse.
"As of today,
snowpack has dwindled to 38 percent of average,"
Sabo said. "Warm temperatures and dry conditions
will likely further reduce future forecasts."