Ruling Gives Klamath County Livestock Some Water

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, July 2 2013 at 4:41 PM, Updated: Tue, July 2 2013 at 4:50 PM

Livestock in areas of Klamath County hit by a water shut-off won't be going thirsty, thanks to a ruling made Monday in Salem...the ruling could also provide some relief for Crater Lake National Park.

Irrigation water has now been shut off to over 100 farms above Upper Klamath Lake...due to the Klamath Tribes exercising senior water rights.

But the Oregon Water Resources Commission adopted a temporary ruling Monday that could provide some relief for ranchers.

Regional Manager Kyle Gorman of the Oregon Water Resources Department explains...

"If they have a need for domestic use, human consumption, or cattle stock water, they are able to take that water, divert it for those uses, without regard for priority date."

Gorman cautions that the water uses are limited...

"This doesn't allow folks to turn their irrigation systems back on and begin irrigating."

Gorman adds the ruling could also provide flexibility for Crater Lake National Park, which had been preparing to bring in water by truck...

"This human consumption preference allows Crater Lake to continue those uses for the park system, as a preference over the priority date.  So that gave them some flexibility in their water use."

The park still plans to adopt additional water conservation measures this summer.

While senior water rights are still in effect, state law allows the commission to grant a preference to livestock water and domestic use when a Governor's drought declaration is in effect...which it has been since April.

The issue was brought to the board by the Oregon Cattlemen's Association.

The temporary ruling will run through the end of the year, it could also expire if the governor withdraws the drought declaration.


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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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