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Klamath County Farmers Could Get No Surface Water This Grow Season

Klamath County farmers are worried they'll have no water for this years' growing season. New fears about water follow a court ruling from earlier this week. NewsWatch12's Sionan Barrett talks with a fourth generation farmer who says this years' drought could put families out of business.

Posted: May. 2, 2018 6:39 PM
Updated: May. 2, 2018 6:40 PM

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore.--For farmers in Klamath County- water is life. It means they have enough to grow and harvest the potatoes in a field.
But it also means they get to keep their life here, surviving another drought like season.
But farmers aren't sure they'll get that chance.

Luke is a fourth-generation potato farmer in the basin.
He says it's likely many farms in the area won't get a drop of surface water for their crops this summer.

Luke says, "Those crops don't have a chance to be productive for offer significant harvest but now irrigation supply so it's gonna be very difficult for those folks that rely on that for their livelihood to turn a profit on it this year"

The local Yurok tribe and Pacific Coast Fishermen say the water needs to stay stored to keep the salmon population healthy.
That's why a federal judge recently denied a request from Klamath farmers and ranchers to use stored water for crops.

At a meeting with Congressman Greg Walden Wednesday, farmers say they're planning to appeal that ruling.

Luke says, "I think everybody is going to have to give something in order to keep everyone hole or keep everyone on the ground and everyone needs met."

Congressman Walden says over 10 million dollars of drought disaster relief is heading to the basin over the coming weeks.

Rep. Greg Walden says, "That brings us to well over $40 million in the Klamath basin since I laid in the bureau would tell you there's no basin in the 17 states that I was received more funding into route than this one"

That money should lower the cost of water pumping..
And is meant to help farmers hit the hardest from this years' drought.
But it doesn't mean the impact will keep everyone in business.

Luke says, "You're going to have to look at other options are ways to make a living it's not gonna work very well for those folks it's going to be very devastating for them."

Congressman Walden says both the farmers and environmentalists need to come to the table to find a lasting solution.

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