Upper Klamath Lake (photo: Bureau of Reclamation)

Gov. Brown addresses Klamath Basin drought situation

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a statement calling for action to address the Klamath Basin drought.

Lack of precipitation and low snowpack prompted Brown to issue Executive Order 21-07 last month, allowing state agencies to provide assistance to Klamath County in the first local drought declaration of 2021. Now, she’s issuing a statement on the “urgent need for relief for Oregonians in the Klamath Basin due to prolonged drought conditions.”

Governor Brown said the following:

“This year the Klamath Basin faces drought conditions that have not been seen in decades. Much of the American West faces similar, unprecedented drought. Prolonged drought creates hardships that impact people and ecosystems, farms, ranches and communities. My message to the people of the Klamath Basin today is this: You are not alone.

“I have spoken with Oregon’s congressional delegation and we are united in our pursuit of all avenues of relief for the Klamath Basin. These drought conditions have the full attention of our offices, and we are coordinating with the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture to get help and relief where it is needed most.

“Work is underway to secure significant financial help for the irrigators who will be affected this year, as well as significant funding for water quality work in the region––including the water quality lab work of the Klamath Tribes. In addition to the Executive Order I signed on March 31 declaring a drought emergency in Klamath County, the Secretary of Agriculture declared a drought disaster in Klamath County in 2021. A secretarial disaster declaration this year from the Department of Agriculture affords loan opportunities for Klamath County and other neighboring counties.

“At the state level, the Water Resources Department is making it their top priority to review and approve emergency groundwater use drought permits that can irrigate up to 2.5 acre feet of water per acre—sufficient water to produce a crop this year.

“I am also confident that the Biden-Harris Administration fully recognizes the connections between climate change and chronic drought, and I will be working with our congressional delegation to engage the administration in pursuing resources, including American Rescue Plan funds, to relieve hardship in the Klamath Basin.“

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