Klamath Basin bracing for drought

Klamath Falls, Ore.  – Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin are bracing for what could be a very dry summer.

While it was a rainy day in Klamath Falls, mountain snow pack levels are less than half the average for this time of year.

“National Weather Service is indicating that we’re in a developing drought.”  Notes U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Area Manager Jeffrey Nettleton.  “We’ll see what happens with that.”

Over 150 irrigators met at the Klamath County Fairgrounds Friday afternoon to hear from federal officials about the upcoming water year.

Basin irrigator Dave Cacka was one of them.  “Interested to see if we’re going to get water, how much water we’re going to get – there’s a lot of concern about decisions that have to be made about planting, about what we do with existing crops.”

Congressman Greg Walden announced at a separate meeting that he’s seeking disaster assistance as part of a short term solution.  “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get funding and new authority in place to help for both groundwater pumping, and for other measures to get us through this drought.”

Walden did not put a specific dollar amount on how much money he’s seeking.

The water picture for the Klamath Basin is likely to come into sharper focus early next month, when final snowfall studies are made.

It’s still unclear when the headgates that provide water to the Klamath Project will be opened.

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