KWSO News for 1/3/20

A broken water main that serves the Kah-Nee-Ta area including the Hamlets Apartment Complex,  left residents without water Monday.  Repairs were completed by the Branch of Public Utilities for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. A Boil Water Notice was issued Tuesday for Kah-Nee-Ta due to impacts from the water main break and remains in effect until cleared by the Environmental Protection Agency. BacT Tests were done yesterday and are will be done again today and as long as the results come back negative it is anticipated that the Boil water notice being lifted early next week. This Boil Water Notice is for the Kah-Nee-Ta area only and is a precautionary measure to provide safe drinking water for all those affected.

A Water Crisis in Harney County has Homeowners and hay farmers at odds as shortages in water exist. Emily Cureton reports – First Marjorie and John Thelen’s [th-EE-lins] well belched black sandy water. Then it ran dry. MARJORIE THELEN: We’re not ranchers, we’re not growing hay or anything. We’re just retired in the country. But like most people in this high, dry valley– they pump drinking water out of the ground. And digging deeper led them to water with high levels of arsenic. John says recent warnings of water scarcity actually set off more farm development. All around their house, wells feed pivots, which are like giant steel sprinklers. JOHN: it’s like having your arteries cut open and watching the blood run out when your water is being sprayed to the wind and its evaporating away at humongous quantities. Now, scientists warn it could take thousands of years for the groundwater to recover from overpumping. But the hay farms aren’t the final destination for the water says Harney County Commissioner and farmer Mark Owens. MARK OWENS: (34:00) So I use a lot of water, but the crops that I raise, go to Tillamook to produce the milk in the ice cream that you eat… He says farms like his support the economy, and without them, the local tax base would collapse — taking schools, roads and law enforcement with it. Farmers like Owens, who want to make changes slowly– sit across from homeowners like the Thelens — who want action fast, before their wells run dry again. The region’s very survival is on the line— As this group tries to reach a compromise before it’s too late. I’m Emily Cureton reporting.

Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley is on his town hall tour, and will be in Madras at the Performing Arts Center tomorrow at 12pm. According to the Pioneer, he will update his constituents on his work in Washington D.C. and answer their questions and invite their suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing Oregon and America. Merkley says “Hearing from Oregonians across the state is critical to doing his job”. Since joining the Senate in 2009, Merkley has held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year.

A round of storms is approaching the Pacific Northwest this weekend. The moisture is expected to fall in the form of rain in the valleys and foothills, and snow in the highest elevations. The precipitation could help boost Oregon’s snowpack, which continues to be well below average for this time of the winter. Much of the northern Oregon Cascades has one-fourth the normal amount of snow on the ground. USDA hydrologist Scott Oviatt says there’s still a long way to go before things reach a crisis. Scott Oviatt: “Last year we had a very cold and wet February with major snow accumulation, so there’s still that opportunity there. But as each day passes, and we have these warmer systems impacting us, it becomes more of a concern.”  Eastern Oregon is closer to normal when it comes to snowpack this winter, but most places there are still below normal for early January.

In Local Sports: The Madras HIgh School Lady Buffs basketball is in Banks for a Tournament, they faced off against Cascade last night and came out victorious with a 58-46 win.  Their next game is tonight against Banks. The 56th Annual All Indian Men’s Holiday Basketball Tournament tipped-off yesterday with 4 games. Game 1 saw Ish Gee Looksh get the victory over Celilo, NW Ballerz 95-63, Game 2 ended with Coyote Creek taking down Chiloquin 82-46, Game 3 had United Tribes defeating Medicine Society 82-64 and rounding out the night Game 4 saw Warm Springs take down Hoop A Holics 87-57. Games continue today with Celilo, NW Ballerz taking on Medicine Society at 1:30, Then Chiloquin takes on Hoop-A-Holics at 3pm. It then has Ish Gee Looksh tipping off against United Tribes at 6:30pm, then finishes tonight with Coyote Creek battling Warm Springs.