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Groundwater Levels Dropping In Klamath Basin

Jes Burns

Groundwater levels in Oregon’s Klamath Basin have dropped as much as 25-feet in the past fifteen years. A new report shows there is a relationship between the declines and pumping by farmers in the region.

While a natural drop in the aquifer level would be expected in a decade of drought, data show groundwater use by farmers in the Klamath federal irrigation project hastened the decline.

U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologist Marshall Gannett says this is valuable information for farmers and water managers to have.

Marshall Gannett: “You know you do need the long-term perspective, that’s for sure. And that oftentimes that can be pretty sobering, when you stop [step] back and see how your decisions have integrated over the past decade.”

Klamath Project irrigators have exceeded recommended groundwater pumping levels eight of the past 14 years.

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