try to measure economic loss in Basin due to lack of water
It only took a
few swift kicks for Justin Grant to prove the obvious.
“Even a few
inches down, there’s no moisture,” said Grant, his boot
dusty from stirring up the parched earth of one of the
Klamath County fields he farms.
other Klamath Project irrigators, Grant received
no water this year from
Upper Klamath Lake. In a better year, he would use water
diverted from the lake to hydrate his crops through hot
summer days. Without it, he has only been able to reach
about 40 percent of his approximately 300 acres with well
water. But that water is much more expensive and difficult
to work with.
farm implement and feed stores to little boutiques on Main
Street are going to feel the economic ramifications, said
Heather Tramp, the executive director of the Klamath County
Chamber of Commerce.
businesses have to lay off folks, they’re going to leave,”
Tramp said, adding that once they are gone, their workers
may not return in a better water year.
the local agriculture industry is a strong supporter of
several nonprofits, contributing heavily to food banks and
youth projects, Tramp said.
More study is
underway. Nathan Bigby, the Klamath County tax assessor,
said his office is working on an economic impact study
pertaining to farm values, which will be completed in the
next few months.
“highly respected” agricultural economists are expected to
begin work on an economic analysis of agriculture’s
contribution to the Basin economy, the Klamath Water Users
Association June newsletter stated.
Like the report
on 2001, KWUA hopes the new paper will be a collaborative
effort between Oregon State and UC Davis in the peer-review
‘A real hard
the next farming season happens at the end of the current
one. That includes ordering feed, fertilizer, fuel and other
necessary expenses for upcoming year.
dollars can be sunk into a field before a farmer even knows
the amount of water they’re going to get, Grant said. He
said he if Project farmers could know their water allocation
much earlier in the year, they could spend their time and
money more wisely.
“A guy gets to
the fall, wintertime, trying to plan for the next year and
you have all these great ideas about what crops to make to
make a good living for the family and that type of thing,”
Grant said. “And we just don’t know if we’re ever going to
have water going into the next year.”
The well Grant
uses to provide running water in his home — separate from
his irrigation well — went dry last week. That has forced
him to spend a few thousand more dollars to get a bulk
storage tank that he “hardwired” into his existing water
neighbor got him through the dry times by providing enough
water “to be able to take a shower and brush teeth and put a
little water in the dog bowl,” Grant said.
he counts himself lucky. Not everyone has the ability to
find and buy a storage tank.
current yield of hay “a lot less than it usually is,” Grant
said he has been “gun shy” on selling anything yet this
year, wanting to be sure he has enough to feed his 20 cows.
“It’s a real
hard dance, if I could describe it that way,” he said. “It’s
just hard to figure out what move to make, you know?”