KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The federal Bureau of Reclamation has pledged another $5 million toward drought relief in the Klamath Basin as farmers and other stakeholders in the region continue to grapple with a major shortage of water.
Reclamation previously awarded $15 million toward the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency, and the additional $5 million will join those funds. KPDRA is tasked with distributing the fund to irrigators in Oregon and California who are without an external water supply due to the drought. Reclamation said that the initial funds will be distributed on a per-acre basis later this year.
Growers in the Klamath Basin were incensed in May when Reclamation announced that it would not divert water from Upper Klamath Lake into the "A Canal," which would normally supply water to to irrigators within the project, as well as the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge between Tulelake and Dorris.
Without water from the lake, growers either had to turn to using or digging wells — which have also gone increasingly dry this year — or leaving their fields fallow in hopes of relief funding.
In addition to the previous $15 million from Reclamation, the US Department of Agriculture put $15 million into the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency this year.
"This devastatingly dry year has been difficult for everyone,” said Jared Bottcher, Klamath Basin Area Office acting area manager for Reclamation. “We are pleased to make additional funding available to KPDRA to provide immediate relief to communities hit hard by drought conditions. We will pursue additional drought support for Klamath Basin communities as we progress towards long-term solutions for the Klamath Basin.”