Klamath County seeks state, federal drought help

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — With winter storms proving elusive and the prospect of water shortages likely, Klamath County commissioners have declared a drought emergency.
The declaration allows state and federal officials to consider a similar declaration, which would then allow water users access to drought mitigation resources.
Oregon Gov.
Kate Brown is expected to take action later this month.
“We have worked closely (with various agencies) to ensure as much water as we can for agriculture.” Based on data collected in 2012 by the USDA that was presented at the meeting, a summer drought in the broad Klamath Basin could result in an estimated $557 million loss to agriculture countywide and the loss of almost 4,500 jobs, the Herald & News newspaper reported.
In approving the declaration, commissioners said a drought is likely because of this winter’s exceptionally dry conditions.
I think we have her commitment to help us every way they can.” Boyd said officials from the Oregon Water Resources Department and federal agencies are aware of concerns and are “very involved.” He likewise believes lessons learned from 2001, when water was withheld from irrigators for most of the summer because of concerns about endangered fish, have helped farmers and ranchers become better water managers.
He estimated Klamath County has nearly 440,000 acres of agricultural land and, based on estimates, the drought could reduce production by 50 percent.
Preference would be given to water used by humans and livestock.
If state and federal emergencies are declared, Lindsay said the Oregon Water Resource Department will work with Klamath County Watermaster Dani Watson and that federal aid would be provided by the Farm Services Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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