Friday August 19, 2022

Jefferson Public Radio

The announcement from the federal Bureau of Reclamation was addressed to three irrigation districts in the farming communities along the Oregon-California border. It marks the end of available water that can be diverted from Upper Klamath Lake, the large body of water that feeds farms and several National Wildlife Refuges along the state line.

According to Paul Simmons, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, residents are frustrated because of mixed messages about how much water they would get this year.

“There’s been just quite a lot of changing of information and expectations created and changed that have made this extremely troubling and not well received,” Simmons said.

Demands on water in the Klamath Basin are widespread, whether or not the region is in a severe drought.

Water levels are maintained in Upper Klamath Lake to protect several species of endangered sucker fish. Water is also released from the lake to flow downriver, to protect habitat for endangered coho salmon. Several Native American tribes that live near Klamath Lake and the Klamath River also possess senior water rights, giving them priority access.

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