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.