Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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October 28, 2021
Misty Buckley writes to the Oregon Emergency Board about her domestic well going dry
"...We are one of several (at least 4) homes in our neighborhood whose well has went dry this summer...there were ag wells pumping near our home that (as far as I know) never got shut off all season long and illegal marijuana grows stealing water that were turned in numerous times throughout the summer but not raided until just recently, to say the least it’s tough to feel that the average homeowners should have to bear this exorbitant burden without some type of assistance..."
FOLLOWED BY: Comment by KID/Klamath Irrigation District Manager Gene Souza, on the reason 410 domestic wells went dry this summer:
"Subject: Klamath Emergency Board Request
My name is Misty Buckley and we own a home situated on about 10 acres off of Hill Rd. in the Klamath Basin. We are one of several (at least 4) homes in our neighborhood whose well has went dry this summer. I sent a rather lengthy letter in early July to a wide variety of county, state, and federal officials detailing what it had been like up to that point to deal with the situation and some longer-term concerns depending how long the situation continued (copy attached for those who had not previously seen that correspondence).
We are grateful for the water tanks and water delivery provided by county and state partnerships; although it doesn’t make the situation perfect it has made it much more bearable and saved us considerable time and cost that we were incurring to haul water ourselves. Knowing that the program was extended through the spring has been a welcome piece of news although I pray we have a resolution before then. If you are receiving this letter I am presuming that you likely have not had to be in this situation yourself and I cannot really express how time-consuming it has been to deal with not having water.
As I mentioned in my previous letter, without water we do not have air conditioning nor heat due to the type of HVAC system our home had when we purchased it. Although the system was dated it did function up until we had no water; lacking a secure timeline of when we will be able to have a well driller service our home and with winter coming, and our only heat source being one which does not adequately & fully heat the entire home, we have made plans for a new heating system. We count that significant cost to be a direct result of our well going dry.
We are entering our sixth month without “normal” functioning water supply. We were initially told to plan for 3-6 months before a well driller could service our property and all summer long I’ve been holding on to that hope and really counting on that timeline – worrying about winter and freezing weather coming but really thinking we would be OK by then. We have kept in contact with the driller who seemed most likely to be able to help us the soonest; but they’ve had delays on other projects that were ahead of us. Now I am truly wondering if getting a driller to our property before the consistent freezing temperatures begin will happen or not and the thought of trying to keep the animals hydrated throughout winter without ‘normal’ running water makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t honestly see how we can make this work but something always seems to work itself out. We were planning that we would need to spend approximately $10K-30K based on what we were told in early June but I was just told by one neighbor that they were told by a well driller they contacted to plan to spend $60K to get their water fixed. I don’t honestly know how we (or really most anyone) can absorb that but I don’t suppose we have much choice. I feel like we basically have a blank check on the table and we’ll have to spend whatever it takes to get water restored as without it the property is practically worthless.
I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate some suggestions I sent in my previous correspondence that it appears (as far as I am aware) to not have been acted upon at all.
• The state could waive domestic well permit/license/etc fees for deepening or replacing a failed well
• The state could expedite permit processing for replacing existing domestic uses
• The state could allow similarly-licensed well drilling contractors from out of state who are not licensed in Oregon to assist Oregon landowners if their schedule can accommodate sooner than local contractors
• The state could allow variances to deepen domestic wells (if found to be suitable by contractor) even if the well wasn’t logged at the time of construction
• The state could increase monitoring and reporting of resulting data for public awareness
• The state could increase transparency of reporting data reflecting groundwater decline and the number of affected landowners
• The county could provide property tax adjustments for loss of use for affected properties
I really do support the agricultural producers everywhere, but knowing there were ag wells pumping near our home that (as far as I know) never got shut off all season long and illegal marijuana grows stealing water that were turned in numerous times throughout the summer but not raided until just recently, to say the least it’s tough to feel that the average homeowners should have to bear this exorbitant burden without some type of assistance. I don’t know what quantity of money would be appropriate and different people will have incurred different costs but when there are so many properties in Klamath County who have been dealt this same hand and in particular so many homes in our specific neighborhood that are affected, this is not simple misfortune. Funding relief that can be provided would be welcome assistance.
Thank you for your consideration.
Nathan & Misty Buckley
Comment by KID/Klamath Irrigation District Manager Gene Souza, on the reason 410 domestic wells went dry this summer:
KID Manager Gene Souza: “…many shallow domestic wells, which were put into the previous marshlands and lakebeds, went dry because the irrigation water was not allowed to fill the canals and be applied to the former marshlands and lakebeds. It is common practice to flood irrigate the former marshlands, such as those around the old Henley ranch, which recharges the shallow aquifer above the chalk rock (yonna layer of impenetrable ash). I do not know the exact depth or geology of Misty's well...but many (my estimation is 75% of the 210) could have been fixed by simply allowing K.I.D. to charge the A Canal and allow some flood irrigation in the areas where the shallow wells were failing. K.I.D. was denied this human health and welfare opportunity.”
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