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Klamath County Declares Drought Emergency

Commissioners worry that this season may be the driest in years.

Posted: Feb. 20, 2018 11:41 AM
Updated: Feb. 20, 2018 11:41 AM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Officials in Klamath County have declared a drought emergency. This official declaration begins the administrative process necessary to receive state and federal help.

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County commissioners are afraid that the coming irrigation season may well be the driest that Klamath County has seen in years, and could cause millions of dollars in economic losses.

"There's about $557 million worth of impact to the community with agriculture in the Klamath basin," County Commissioner Donnie Boyd said today, "And that's if 100% of agriculture was shut off ... and that's not gonna happen. So we really don't know what kind of financial impact it would have on the county today, but say that 30% of agriculture was curtailed because of water—we could extrapolate $150 million."

Drought emergency declarations allow the state government to prioritize water usage for both human use and for livestock, and allow local residents affected by drought to apply for federal aid.

According to Commissioner Boyd, this declaration is just the first step in a long process. Any assistance first has to be approved by the governor, who then appeals to the federal government for aid.

"Klamath County [has] very resilient people. We've always worked together in the past, we've been through this before. And I'm absolutely sure that Klamath County is going to come through this again."

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