Klamath Falls, Ore. – This is a critical week for water users on the Klamath Project.
Klamath Basin farmers still aren’t sure just when the water will start flowing, or how much they’ll get.
April 1st is usually a target date for opening the headgates to the ‘A’ canal.
“Obviously, we’re going to have a later start, otherwise there would be water in the canals today,” said Klamath Water Users Association Executive Director Scott White. “It’s just a matter of how later that start is going to be, and how much water is going to be available.”
Many water users are heading to San Francisco Wednesday for a court hearing.
They’re challenging an earlier ruling to increase flows below the Irongate Dam to flush the Klamath River to help endangered coho salmon.
“We’re asking him to reconsider the science that was used,” explained White. “We feel we have some pretty compelling evidence that show that the science doesn’t necessarily provide the benefits that the court had identified previously.”
Laura Williams says the judge’s ruling will be a big factor on the water year. “After the judge is able to rule on that, then we’ll be able to get a start date to the Klamath Project, and also the allocation.”
But until then, farmers are unable to prepare.
The uncertainty takes a big toll on farmers, as they don’t know how much money to budget for farming, or how much land to set aside to grow crops.
The economic ripple extends well beyond the farm.
“It’s been quite a drain on our community,” said Scott White. “It really has, all the way down to the business community.”
The Klamath Water Users Association will hold their annual meeting this Thursday evening.
They’re hoping to learn how much water they can expect, and when they can expect to receive it.
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.