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KWAPA - Snow a welcome sign for irrigators
by SAMANTHA TIPLER, Herald and News 2/20/13

Snow on the ground was a welcome sight for farmers and irrigators Tuesday morning.

Monday afternoon about 30 farmers, ranchers and water users gathered at Lost River High School to hear what the Klamath Water and Power Agency had planned if not enough moisture came this winter.

Those at the meeting were watching the cloudy skies Monday afternoon, hoping for rain or snow.

“There’s not much you can do about it. We take what Mother Nature gives us. We’ll work through the season like we’ve always done,” said Ed Bair, of Bair Farms.

“I’m a little skeptical we’re going to get a full supply,” said Don Dean, of Merrill. “I’m pessimistic. I’ve lost optimism after squeaking by, by the skin of our teeth the last few years.”

The past few weeks have been dry and warm in the Klamath Basin, and the snowpack’s percentage was on the decline as the amount of snow accumulation failed to keep up with the yearly average.

At the KWAPA meeting, executive director Hollie Cannon outlined possible programs irrigators can use if surface water comes up short this year. Those included the groundwater pumping program and the demand management program (formerly called land idling).

Groundwater program

Groundwater will not be pumped until it’s determined there is a shortage, and how large the shortage may be, Cannon said. KWAPA will be working with the Oregon Water Resources Department, the Bureau of Reclamation and irrigation districts to coordinate efforts.

Land applying for the groundwater program must be normally irrigated by surface water from Upper Klamath Lake, the Klamath River or Clear Lake Reservoir.

Payment will be based upon cost of pumping and the volume of water pumped.

Demand management program

Cannon said “land idling” was a misnomer, since land was sometimes still used even if it wasn’t irrigated. That’s why KWAPA renamed the program “demand management.”

Those applying for the program must have irrigated with surface water from Upper Klamath Lake, the Klamath River or Clear Lake Reservoir in at least one of the past three years.

The applications will be scored based on an evapotransporation rate and the offer price per acre from the landowner. If the program is put into effect, those with the lower scores will be approved first. Payment will be based on those scores.

stipler@heraldandnews.com   @TiplerHN




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