Drought limits Klamath Basin irrigation water

05/10/2010 12:33:53 PM
Andy Nelson

Drought is expected to limit how much federal irrigation water potato growers in the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California will receive, but production won’t likely be affected, an industry official said.

Growers could get just 30%  to 40% of the average amount of irrigation water released from  Upper Klamath Lake, according to a news release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

No irrigation water is ex-pected to be released from the Clear Lake Reservoir this year. Water released from Gerber Lake, however, is  expected to be about 85% of normal.

Despite the drought, basin growers will stop growing alfalfa and other crops before they stop growing more lucra-tive potatoes, said Bill Brewer, executive director of the Oregon Potato Commission, Portland.

As a result, Brewer said, volumes won’t likely be affected. But growers will feel the drought’s effects on their bot-tom lines, he said.

In addition to higher water costs, some growers will have to venture away from their home bases to rent land closer to wells or other alternative water sources, he said.

Potatoes are typically grown on 10,000 to 12,000 acres in the Klamath Basin, Brewer said.



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