Zero Water Allocation for Klamath Basin
The Bureau of Reclamation announced for the first time that farmers in the Klamath Basin along the California/Oregon border would receive no water from upper Klamath Lake. Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen says this will have devastating impacts on farmers in the area. He says some will resort to pumping groundwater, while others might struggle to keep their operations in business.
Keppen… “The groundwater resource here in the Klamath Basin wasn't really even utilized until 2001. That's the first time the water was shut off here. The hydrology this year is the worst in 40 years, had the lowest inflows and upper Klamath Lake in 40 years. But the water supply that was originally developed for irrigation purposes, in the last 20 years has essentially been re-managed to meet the needs of two fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act. So come September, we'll have roughly a million acre feet of water up here in the upper basin. 400,000 acre feet of that will have gone downstream to meet coho salmon needs. About half a million acre feet will be behind the dam in upper Klamath Lake to meet these artificial levels for suckers. No water going to farming, even though we've got that amount of water available.”
The Family Farm Alliance has joined forces with other agricultural voices to advocate for more surface water infrastructure. But even if successful, many farmers are in for a very tough year.