Klamath Basin Farmers Look to Groundwater, Fallowing Land
The Bureau of Reclamation announced it would be shutting down the Klamath Irrigation Project’s A canal which typically delivers water to farmers along the California/Oregon border. Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen says many farmers will pump groundwater if they can, or fallow land.
Keppen… “With no surface water out there, people are looking to use groundwater and the state of Oregon has, has issued emergency drought permits to allow people to pump groundwater. On the California side, the Tulelake Irrigation District has some wells and they're working out a program to sort of parse the water out down there. But it's not sustainable. I mean, you can only go to it in times of need and then allow it to replenish. And this'll be the second year in a row where we're hitting the groundwater pretty hard. And, I know there's concerns about impacts to domestic wells. And just, you know, other groundwater wells that have been permitted in the past.”
Keppen…”The other option is people are fallowing and I would say, we'll be lucky if we get a third of the acreage getting some sort of water, including maybe just enough for one cutting of alfalfa. We're looking at over a hundred thousand acres of idle land out here, and some acres will get some groundwater, but most of it's going to go idle. A lot of folks up here are just wondering if they're even gonna be in business next year.”
This highlights the west’s urgent need for more surface water infrastructure.