Water | local | Environment | Agriculture

Farmers Face Severe Water Shortage In Southeastern Oregon

OPB | July 15, 2014 5:47 p.m. | Updated: July 17, 2014 12:17 p.m. | Portland, Ore.

Contributed By:

Aparna Vidyasagar

Water levels in the reservoirs of Southeastern Oregon are dwindling, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Some, like Owyhee and Warm Springs have already run out of farm water supply.

Jay Chamberlin oversees the work of the Owyhee Irrigation District and manages water use in the area. He said farms need water until mid-October.

But the water for farmers is already running short.  “Virtually they don’t have any options. You know, our temperatures are running anywhere from 105 degrees to 95 degrees here for the last week. We anticipate more of those,” said Chamberlin.

Some farmers planted hardier plants like peas and beans. Others dug irrigation wells. But Chamberlin said that the process is expensive and finding water can be difficult. Many farmers may have lower incomes this growing season.

Low water levels also affect recreation. Ashley Massey with the Oregon State Marine Board says that because of the low water levels, launching from the boat ramps isn’t possible.

A previous version of this article misstated the extent of the boating restrictions.

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