$20 million in aid sent to Klamath Project irrigation system amid drought

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. – Amid a prolonged drought, the federal government announced millions of dollars in aid to Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers.

On Monday, the Bureau of Reclamation announced the Klamath Project irrigation system will open on April 15 with an initial allocation of 50,000 acre-feet of water available to irrigators.

In addition, $20 million in immediate aid to the Klamath Project was announced along with $5 million for tribal assistance.

“The Klamath Basin is experiencing prolonged and extreme drought conditions that we have not seen since the 1930s,” said Reclamation Acting Commissioner David Palumbo. “We will continue to monitor the hydrology and adaptively manage conditions in close coordination with Project water users, tribes and state and federal agency partners. Reclamation is dedicated to collaborating with all stakeholders to get through another difficult year and keep working toward long-term solutions for the Basin.”

The Klamath Water Users Association, which represents water users who produce food using irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake, reportedly decried the government’s announcement. It argued there is adequate water available this year to provide irrigation to farms and the reduction of water is due to rigid regulations and guidelines.

“We have 170,000 acres that could be irrigated this year and we’re ready to get to work,” said KWUA President Ben DuVal, who farms with his wife and daughters on land served by the Project. “On a single acre, we can produce over 50,000 pounds of potatoes, or six thousand pounds of wheat. This year, most of that land will not produce any food because the government is denying water for irrigation. We’ll just be trying to keep the weeds and dust under control.”

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