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Water shutoffs begin in the Basin; Klamath Tribes expected to make its ‘call’ this week
  by LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 6/10/14
     Irrigation spigots began drying up this week as the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) regulated its first water calls of the season.

   According to Scott White, watermaster for the OWRD office in Klamath Falls, after nine Basin entities made calls for water the last week in May, water diversions have been regulated to give claims prior to May 19, 1905, priority deliveries.

   Regulation notices were sent out Friday after the OWRD spent a week analyzing streamflows, according to White.
 He said this week the office will follow-up on the notices and make sure recipients are complying.

   OWRD adjudication regulation, which was implemented for the first time in 2013, provides surface water rights based on priority date of property claims. The older the claim date, the more senior the water right — junior water users’ irrigation supply can be shut off if a senior water right makes a claim to that water.

   White and OWRD water managers determined the Van Brimmer Ditch Co., which has an 1883 right, did not qualify for recognition because enough water is flowing to meet its needs; however, the seven streams measured for the water calls produced a 486 cubic feet per second shortfall.  

   According to Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry, tribal council members initiated the adjudication process Friday and are expected to make a call for water soon.

   “We’re expecting that things will move forward with a call in the early part of this week,” he said.

   According to Gentry, much of the Tribes water call will adhere to specified in-stream flows outlined in the recently signed Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement and the call will only remain active until those flows are reached. The areas outside the Basin agreements will be called to the full amount, Gentry said.

   White said it’s too early to tell if the shutoffs will be ongoing, but stream flows typically continue to fall through the summer. “On a year like this, it’s so hard to say — it’s drier than last year,” he said.

    ljarrell@heraldandnews.com  ; @LMJatHandN  

   Community opinion

   A comment period is open for a grant to evaluate Crater Lake National Park’s options to mitigate potential water shutoffs and keep the park open during extreme drought.

   In April, an Idaho engineering company filed the grant application with the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD), requesting $50,000 for a “storage other than aboveground” water reclamation planning study at Crater Lake National Park.

   According to the application, filed by SPF Water Engineering, the $274,000 study will help the OWRD and the National Park Service determine the feasibility of constructing and operating a new water storage system, which could include permitting a new well, providing a license to recharge a nearby aquifer with water from Annie Springs and withdrawing water during periods of peak demand and then recharging the aquifer with water from Annie Springs.

   The Crater Lake National Park community water system demand can exceed 70,000 gallons per day, according to the application. The long-term water management strategies may provide water during periods of peak demand and low surface water runoff, reducing stress on water supplies in this overallocated Basin.

   As much as 100 percent of the water demand could be met with recovered or mitigated water supply, the application said.

   Water adjudication was implemented for the first time in the Klamath Basin last year. Two water priority dates have been identified for Crater Lake National Park: 1941 and 1902. During low water years, the more senior water right holders can make a delivery call on more junior water right holders, which could result in either curtailment or ceased diversion until water supplies are replenished through natural precipitation or other means.

   In 2013, OWRD granted the park an exemption from adjudication based on its need for water for human consumption.

   Written comments can be submitted until 5 p.m., June 27. Submit comments to Nancy Pustis at: 725 Summer Street NE, Suite A, Salem, OR, 97301 or nancy.n.pustis@ wrd.state.or.us.



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