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Klamath Basin Warned Drought Could Trigger Irrigation Shutoffs

May 7, 2013 | AP
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  • Klamath Lake. The Klamath Basin's irrigation water could be shutoff this summer if drought conditions persist. credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Klamath Lake. The Klamath Basin's irrigation water could be shutoff this summer if drought conditions persist. | credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | rollover image for more

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — With drought looming, the state of Oregon is preparing for the likelihood it will have to shut off irrigation to many of the 200 farms and ranches in the upper Klamath Basin as the Klamath Tribes take control of senior water rights in the region for the first time in a century.

Representatives of the governor’s office have been making regular visits to Klamath County to brief local officials on what they can expect if irrigation withdrawals are shut off.

Richard Whitman, natural resources adviser to the governor, says the formal state regulation of water rights will be a new era for the basin with a history of water disputes. In 2001, a drought and water shut-off to a nearby federal irrigation project led to weeks of protests.

© 2013 AP
environment Klamath Basin Oregon irrigation agriculture
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