Power Company PacifiCorp has offered to draw down two of its reservoirs on the Klamath River this summer to try to help ranchers facing a water shutoff in Oregon’s Klamath basin.
Upper Klamath lake is like a giant reservoir at the top of the Klamath River. The bureau of reclamation balances how much water stays in the lake, how is much is diverted for irrigation, and how much is released down the Klamath River to keep migrating salmon cool.
In response to the drought, PacifiCorp has offered to drain some of the water in its Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs to make sure there’s enough flow in the lower reaches of the Klamath river for the salmon runs.
That could free up some of the lake water upstream, says PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely.
“Our hope is that it could be used to alleviate the drought situation and the dire circumstances facing the agricultural community in the basin, but ultimately that would be up to the Bureau of Reclamation," Gravely says.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says it is vetting the proposal from PacifiCorp to see if could help irrigators and to make sure it won’t harm fish.
Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting