PacifiCorp is working with the Bureau of Reclamation to provide
the Klamath Project irrigators with up to 9,500 acre feet of
water in late May in addition to a total 10,500 acre feet of
water lent irrigation districts earlier in the month, according
to Bob Gravely, the utility’s spokesman.
The announcement Monday was made as irrigation districts within
the Project — KID and Tulelake — face a dwindling 10,500 acre
feet borrowed from PacifiCorp at the beginning of the month. The
amount has been all but exhausted as of Tuesday.
“That’s what we’ve been living on from Upper Klamath Lake up
until this point,” said Brad Kirby, president of the Klamath
Water Users Association.
“The discussion the last week and a half is that there is an
additional 9,500 or 9,000 acre feet that we could temporarily
augment or hold back in Upper Klamath Lake that could be able to
be diverted by the Project in the month of May, that wouldn’t
increase the overall supply.”
The additional water would come from both Copco and Irongate
reservoirs, according to Kirby, though several variables remain.
“It would allow us to continue to divert at the drastically
reduced rates,” Kirby added. “Hopefully through the end of the
PacifiCorp, which is bound to comply with dilution flows
required of BOR, cannot lend water for irrigation use until the
dilution flows are complete later this month. It’s the second
time since 2014 that PacifiCorp has adjusted operations to lend
water for irrigation use, Gravely said.
The reason the company cannot spare the water any sooner is that
reservoirs must be kept at certain levels in order for the
spillways to meet dilution flow requirements, according to
“Once the dilution flow is over, we will be able to lower the
reservoir further to help Reclamation meet downstream flow
requirements, which then allows Reclamation to divert an
equivalent amount for the Klamath Project,” Gravely said.
“It’s a timing issue and it’s an issue of what Reclamation is
expecting to need over the summer,” Gravely added later in a
While the utility is lending water, which will need to be
repaid, efforts are also underway to secure up to 6,000 cubic
feet per second from eastside neighbors in Langell Valley and
Horsefly Irrigation Districts. A portion of this amount would go
toward senior water right holders Van Brimmer Irrigation
District and Henley-Ankeney (a former ditch company absorbed by
“The water will come out of both Clear Lake and Gerber
(Reservoir),” said Laura Williams, public affairs officer, for
Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office.
What’s left for the majority of the Klamath Project is uncertain
at best, at least until late May.
“That still leaves us with a nasty week to get through,” said
Jerry Enman, vice-chairman of Klamath Irrigation District.
A full delivery of water to the Klamath Project — estimated to
be between 205,000 and 250,000 acre feet — is delayed until
anywhere between June 1 and 15. Any amounts of water diverted
prior to a full delivery will not add to the overall delivery
for the Project.
“This is the first time in Project history that any of these
operations have been going the way they are,” Kirby said. “From
river operations, to within the Project itself, this is
uncharted territory and we’re doing the best we possibly can,
and trying to survive the month of May.”
Even with 125 to 150 cubic feet per second of additional water
that KID is expecting from Langell Valley and Horsefly
Irrigation districts on the east side, the month of May remains
uncertain for irrigators.
“We’re in a very tenuous situation with a lot of variables that
can move in a lot of different directions,” said Ty Kliewer, KID
At this point, Enman said many irrigators are gambling one way
or another when it comes to the irrigation season.
“Either water will show up or it won’t,” Enman said.
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