June 17 2021
2:15 AM
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  Amid severe drought, Oregon farming region illegally diverts water from the Klamath River   Water ration for farmers on California-Oregon border takes huge hit amid drought  

Story by Madeleine Gregory - Story Source
Published on Wednesday April 28, 2021 - 11:54 AM
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OREGON - Along the Oregon-California border, the Klamath River Basin is a crucial water source for Indigenous tribes, endangered species, and farmers. This year, though, there is simply not enough to go around.

The Western US is enduring another major drought, and the Klamath River Basin is at a historic low. This resulted in different groups being forced to compete and make their case for why water, now precious and scarce, should be diverted to their needs. It's a stark reminder of the tough, no-win decisions that citizens will continue to face amid the worsening climate crisis.

The Klamath Tribe contended that the water needs to stay in the lake to protect two endangered fish, the C'waam (Lost River sucker) and Koptu (shortnose sucker). The Yurok Tribe, to the south, said that more water needs to flow to the Klamath River, which is home to many fish species including the threatened Coho salmon. The Klamath Project, a collection of farms in the region, implored that they need water to irrigate crops or else face the possibility of folding after failing to deliver on their contracts with suppliers.



(Los Angeles Time)

PORTLAND, Oregon - Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project spanning the California-Oregon border learned Wednesday that they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against threatened fish species central to the heritage of several tribes in the area. Oregon's governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the "full attention of our offices," and she is working with congressional delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation briefed irrigators, tribes and environmental groups early Wednesday after delaying the decision a month. The federally owned irrigation project will draw 33,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake, which farmers said was roughly 8% of what they need in such a dry year. Water deliveries will start June 1, two months later than usual, for the 1,400 irrigators who farm the 225,000 acres.

"The simple fact is it just hasn't rained or snowed this year. We all know how dry our fields are, and the rest of the watersheds are in the same boat," Ben DuVal, president of the Klamath Water Users Assn., told several dozen irrigators who gathered in Klamath Falls on Wednesday morning to hear the news.

"We all know what this is going to mean to our farms, our families and our community as a whole. For some of us, it may mean we're not in business anymore next year," said DuVal, who owns a farm in Tulelake, Calif.