Irrigation Season Off To Uncertain Start

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, April 11 2013 at 3:51 PM, Updated: Thu, April 11 2013 at 4:28 PM

Water is now flowing to farmers on the Klamath Project...but an uncertain supply of water has farmers on edge.

The headgates to the 'A' Canal were opened Wednesday, marking the start of irrigation season. 

But Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director Greg Addington notes that low snow pack levels in the mountains has many irrigators nervous...

"It's going to be a very challenging season.  This will be the third of the last four years where we've been short of supply, or at least had some sort of interruption, delay."

Hollie Cannon of the Klamath Water And Power Association (KWAPA) notes that his agency is now taking additional applications for ground water pumping to help stretch the supply...

"And the demand management, or land idling program has been re-opened to a set price of $250 per acre for setting aside land."

There are no guarantees that farmers will get a full supply of water, or a full season.

Greg Addington says that makes planning difficult...

"You don't know how much you're going to get, or how long it's going to last - it makes it very difficult."

But for now, irrigators are just happy to see the water flowing.

It will take about two weeks to fill the 200 miles of canals going from the 'A' Canal headgates through the Klamath Project.

Klamath Irrigation District officials say they hope to put that on a fast track to help make up for the late start.

The Klamath Basin irrigation season normally begins on April 1st.  The Bureau of Reclamation delayed the opening of the headgates this year due to low lake levels.

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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