Klamath water brings jobs optimism

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Monday, May 16, 2011

BY COREY PAUL

Farmer Steve Kandra took a break from planting wheat in his field recently, a truck humming behind him, to reflect upon the good news about water this year.

“There should be enough water in the system to take care of everybody,” he says. “This year is looking a heck of a lot better than last year.”

Last year drought delayed irrigation flows until mid-May. For Klamath County, the water shortage meant millions of dollars lost from unplanted crops and rough economic ripples through an already beleaguered community. Even with federal disaster aid, Kandra says he lost money irrigating with costly groundwater and had to leave a fifth of his 650 acres barren. Other farmers couldn’t plant at all.

But irrigation started on time this year, thanks to cool, stormy weather. The snow pack was at 116% in late spring and Upper Klamath Lake was at 2.25 feet higher than last year.

A good year for the county means about $300 million in agricultural commodities, but this is the first time in years where that production seems possible. Last year, the value of Klamath agricultural commodities dropped off $13.2 million from 2009’s value of $241 million.

Even a modest return to 2009’s yield would be welcome to the county of less than 25,000, which struggles with high unemployment. Every $1 million of agricultural commodities converts into about 15 jobs for the county, according to the OSU Extension Service. Each of those commodity dollars multiplies once or twice as it works through the county economy, according to the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce. That’s hundreds of millions cycling through everyone from tractor suppliers to restaurateurs.

“A very small change, say 25 jobs, can make a significant impact,” says Chamber of Commerce director Charles Massie. “Now all of a sudden, a 100 jobs. That’s pretty important.”

But farming remains risky, even with this normal irrigation flow.

“We have a 70% chance of success and a 30% chance of failure,” he says. “After last year, we don’t have too many choices. We’ve got to get it done.”

Corey Paul is a contributor to Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

An uncertain future

Guest Blog
Thursday, May 21, 2015
norristhumbBY JASON NORRIS | GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty is a part of doing business, whether in through the lens of investment opportunities and risks or the business of running an enterprise.


Read more...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

Energy Stream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Oregon already ranks as the nation’s second largest generator of hydroelectric power. (Washington is No. 1). Now an elegant new installation in Portland is putting an unconventional, sharing economy twist on this age-old water-energy pairing. The new system, launched this winter, uses the flow of water inside city water pipes to spin four turbines that produce electricity for Portland General Electric customers. 


Read more...

The Health Guru

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Mohan Nair channels a visionary.


Read more...

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS