Sunday, March 14, 2010

Oregon Senators ask for Federal Assistance to Klamath

Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are asking for federal assistance to help coordinate water relief in the drought stricken Klamath Region this summer. Klamath Lake, the water supply for a huge agricultural region on the Southern Oregon and Northern California border is at record low levels and is significantly lower than even 1992 levels when the basin experienced its worst ever drought. A letter drafted by the two senators to the department of Commerce, Interior nad Agriculture asks for

-Funds to purchase upstream water rights voluntarily offered

-Adjusting surface water management within parameters of the law and sound science;

-Releasing emergency funds for land idling through water banks or other programs;

-Activating emergency drought wells or other means of accessing groundwater; and

-Establishing drought assistance for all farmers regardless of crop type.

Drought is not new to the Klamath Region and in 2002 low water and a failure to provide adequate instream flows for migrating salmon and steelhead led to an unprecedented fish kill. Recent political negotiations between the states, agencies, and stakeholders in the region have sought to resolve long standing disagreements over the management of water in the Klamath Basin. This summer will be an immediate, challenging test of the agreement.

see an article in the Oregonian:

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