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Klamath Basin Faces Drought, Again

Jes Burns

The Klamath Basin is facing another year of drought. Klamath County commissioners have requested that Gov. Kate Brown make a state-level declaration.

Forecasts based on U.S. Geological Survey data predict that the Klamath Basin will only fulfill about a third of what’s needed for agriculture. The Upper Klamath Lake is more than a foot lower than it was this time last year, which was also a drought year.

The Klamath County commissioners voted Tuesday to issue a county-level drought declaration. The board voted to request that Gov. Kate Brown’s office issue a state-level drought declaration, which would open up financial resources for water users.

Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd says the region got some snow fall this week, but it’s not enough.

“We are too late this year to recover from the situation we’re in,” Boyd says. “We get most of our moisture in December, January and February.”

The basin has faced drought conditions almost every year this past decade.

“We’re coming off a bad year last year,” says Klamath Water Users Association Deputy Director Mark Johnson. “So the soil moisture is very low, and then the inflows to Upper Klamath Lake are some of the lowest on record, even with the snowpack.”

April Ehrlich is JPR content partner at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Prior to joining OPB, she was a regional reporter at Jefferson Public Radio where she won a National Edward R. Murrow Award.