Klamath Lake full - Federal managers order release of water, but could still be shortages later in the summer
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Federal water managers have ordered the release of water from Upper Klamath Lake, which reached full pool this week and is receiving fresh inflow from a series of storms.
Having a full lake doesn't mean there won't be shortages later in the summer, officials warned, but the rainfall will help delay the demand for irrigation water.
The Bureau of Reclamation directed PacifiCorp, which owns the Link River Dam, to increase the flow of water in Link River from 275 to 700 cubic feet per second earlier this week.
With the arrival of rainfall Tuesday, the agency asked PacifiCorp to open the dam up even wider, increasing the flow to 2,200 cubic feet per second today, the highest flow since April 2000. That water will eventually boost flows in the Lower Klamath River in California.
The lake is nearly a foot higher than last year at this time, and storage Tuesday was estimated at 474,418 acre-feet, up 37,961 acre-feet from last year, said Jim Bryant, operations manager for the Bureau's Klamath Basin Area Office.
''The bottom line is we are getting more inflow now, and that's going to lead to more outflow,'' he said.
Depending on what type of soil they have, the ground moisture could help farmers and ranchers in the early part of the growing season because they won't need irrigation water right away.
Even with good soil moisture, irrigators are dependent on the snowpack and the streamflows that come from its melting. The mountain snowpack in Klamath County was estimated Wednesday at 59 percent of average for that date.
''When you see that the precipitation is lower than normal and the snowpack is even lower than that, that's where the concern that there won't be enough water to meet normal demands comes from,'' he said.
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