Crucial week for Klamath irrigators

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.

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