Klamath Project Update – May 8, 2020


This is what we know at 9 pm on May 8 about the Klamath Project water supply from Upper Klamath Lake for irrigation in 2020.

  • There is information circulating in the community that there will be a drastic reduction, from the amount announced in April, of the amount of irrigation water that will be available.
  • Reduction, even large reduction, may occur, but there have been no formal decisions made.   KWUA and others are doing all that they can to mitigate the severe impacts from the already-meager supply that was announced in April, and to avoid the entirely catastrophic effects that would occur if there is a reduction from that amount.
  • We should have better information very soon, but not likely before Monday, May 11.
  • We urge producers to be conservative, if they can, in investment in the next few days, and we urge districts to manage conservatively based on the most reliable, current information.
  • There is very significant risk of drastic impacts to our communities. Even under the best of circumstances, water availability is severely limited.  If there is not a dramatic reduction in demand, the Project will likely run out of water altogether with the next several weeks, and maybe sooner than we had feared only a week ago.  Only if there is extremely high enrollment in Klamath Project Drought Response Agency (DRA) programs and sufficient funding for those programs will there be a chance to mitigate a disastrous situation.

We are very sad to report this, and that there is uncertainty.  It is information you must know.

An explanation of what has happened follows. 

   The May 1 forecast for inflow to Upper Klamath Lake through the end of September is extremely low, much less than the April forecast, and overall unprecedented.  As a result, Upper Klamath Lake elevations are low for this time of year, and if planned river flows and diversions occur, Upper Klamath Lake will be lower through the end of September than what was anticipated by the biological opinion.  There are discussions occurring among many people and agencies about how to deal with these issues.  We do not know what decisions will come out of this.  But all this is the reason that irrigators have been hearing that there could be a revised allocation, and heard some startlingly-terrible numbers today.  KWUA continues to advocate for measures that do not involve reduction in the allocation and believes the allocation, which has been relied on and used in planning decisions and commitments, is already far too low. 

                Under even the best of circumstances, there will undoubtedly be severe consequences, including very early curtailment of all Project deliveries unless there is extremely high enrollment in DRA programs and sufficient funding.

                We will continue to provide any information that we have, as soon as we have it. There are many committed people working hard on these emergency issues and problems, and also toward the goal of better things for the future. Farmers and ranchers are essential; they need water to do their work.

Download this Klamath Project Water Update.