Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, December 5 2012 at 3:59 PM, Updated: Wed, December 5 2012 at 4:14 PM
Recent storms are a likely factor in the failure of a levee not far from downtown Klamath Falls...the threat posed by the breach is still unknown.
The levee on Lake Ewauna broke sometime Sunday morning, flooding about fifty acres of farmland, and threatening neighboring properties.
"The Burlington Northern has a spur up there." Notes Klamath County Emergency Manager George Buckingham. "A track that's right up against the water now - and Amerigas is close. Whether they're really threatened or not is still to be determined."
The rail line and Amerigas propane storage area remain open at this time.
There have also been concerns about what impacts the higher water levels could have on the nearby Wingwatcher's Trail. Water is now only a few feet away from a Wingwatcher's storage shed.
George Buckingham notes that when the breach was first noticed, Bureau of Reclamation officials were notified...
"They asked PacifiCorp to lower the lake level a little bit, which PacifiCorp did, which took the pressure off."
Levee failures have caused big problems in the past. Six years ago, failure of a levee near the Running 'Y' forced a shutdown of Highway 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls for nearly two weeks.
Buckingham says that failure of the levee on Lake Ewauna is not expected to have as much of an impact...
"It's not a hurry-up situation. It's not an emergency at this point. We have time to take a rational, quiet, calm look at it."
The land is owned by the owners of the former Modoc Lumber Company, and leased to a private agricultural operation. While the flooded area is private property, the land is also inside and outside of the Klamath Falls city limits. Buckingham says city and county government officials are now working with those land owners.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.