Drought Warning Issued

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Wed, March 14 2012 at 4:27 PM, Updated: Wed, March 14 2012 at 4:40 PM

Klamath Project farmers are being warned to prepare for possible water shortages this season.

Greg Addington of the Klamath Water Users Association received the notice from the Bureau of Reclamation...

"Snow pack is not what it is, we're facing a potential drought, potentially worse than 2010, which is the last time we were short on water."

Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Kevin Moore says "The letter is Reclamation's effort to reach out to our irrigation contractors, and let them know that there are some concerns about the upcoming water year."

Current snow pack levels in the Klamath Basin are at 73% of average, and that could translate to a repeat of 2010 - when there was a late start to the irrigation season, and only about a third of irrigators received any water.  Those that did receive water received less than the usual amount.

"We're looking at two out of the last three years, not having enough water."  Noted Greg Addington.

Kevin Moore of Reclamation says that there are some factors that could help farmers this year...

"Currently, there's a little over a foot more in the lake than there was in 2010."   A land idling program could also help to free up some available irrigation water.  "Another positive sign is the weather that we're receiving right now."

Greg Addington notes that some farmers may have to rely on wells, much as they did in 2010...

"But doing that again is going to be very difficult.  We don't think we can pump that much groundwater here again that soon."

The Bureau of Reclamation expects to have a clearer picture of how much water will be available sometime in early April.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

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.

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