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Oregon Regulators Juggle Crops & Fish; Agriculture Suffers

Limited supplies of surface water in Klamath Basin, Oregon, are wreaking havoc with the area’s $557 million agriculture industry. Farmers and ranchers in the area do not have a water allocation from the Klamath Project, as regulators from the US Bureau of Reclamation are currently struggling to supply enough surface water to protect endangered fish, according to the agricultural weekly Capital Press. The Klamath Tribes have filed a lawsuit against the bureau, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, hoping to force the agencies to provide more water in Upper Klamath Lake and ensure survival of fish that have historically been a mainstay of the tribes’ diet.

Drought conditions in the basin are complicating the already-challenging balancing act faced by the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the Klamath Project. The bureau regulates water across the roughly 200,000 acres of farmland, including 18 irrigation districts, and is responsible for managing irrigation and lake levels.

 

Shrinking Water Supplies Lead to Restoration Projects

As water supplies across the country are decreasing, a number of large companies are engaging in water reclamation projects. Personal-care product company Tom’s of Maine is donating a million dollars to preserve and restore the nation’s water supply by working with the Nature Conservancy on projects along rivers and in river basins.

PepsiCo is focusing on water reclamation, including new projects in the Southwestern US, also in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy. The project bring together farmers and other key stakeholders to address and manage watersheds in high-risk areas.

And Intel is working on water restoration projects which will, upon completion, move the company 31% closer to goal of restoring 100% of its water use by 2025.

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