FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2020
Paul Simmons, Executive Director
Irrigation Allocation Still Disastrously Low
Klamath Water Users Association’s (KWUA) board of directors is reminding Klamath Project irrigators that the irrigation water supply from Upper Klamath Lake is severely less than necessary to meet needs. The projected supply of 140,000 acre-feet is less than 40 percent of the water that is needed, and Warren Act contractors are not expected to have any allocation at all. KWUA’s board of directors is concerned that the announcement on June 9 of an “increase” in water availability not be misunderstood. “With what we learned on June 9, we are in no better position for this year that we expected in April: we are disastrously short,” said Klamath Irrigation District Manager Gene Souza.
Landowners have been encouraged to enroll, and sign contracts when available, in programs of the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (DRA), which was formed to minimize effects of drought and water shortage. “It’s challenging because we don’t know yet how much money the DRA will actually have to work with.” said DRA President Marc Staunton. “But we will have a complete catastrophe if we can’t reduce demand. Our congressional delegation is going all out to deliver badly-needed financial resources.”
The Klamath Project’s demand for irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake this year is over 350,000 acre-feet. Due to drought and federal operations constraints, the announced Project Supply based was roughly 40 percent of the need. This prompted severe concern and fianancial and management challenges, as well as efforts to secure relief funding.
During May, was concern that the Project Supply allocation could drop even lower than the amount announced in April. The June 9 announcement means only that approximately the original, extremely low, amount of water will be available. As stated by Commissioner Brenda Burman, the Project “remains at a painful, record low allocation.”
Irrigation districts divert and deliver Klamath Project water to their patrons who pay for the water system. “The districts are working together to do what we can, but we have unprecedented challenges,” said Tulelake Irrigation District Manager Brad Kirby.
A significant number of acres in Klamath Drainage District has signed up for participation in DRA programs, according to KWUA Deputy Director Mark Johnson. “Landowners know that the DRA can’t promise any payments at this time. But signing up is the strategy they have decided is best for themselves and the Project.”