USGS Washington Water Science Center
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In some years, water is scarce in the Klamath Basin of southern Oregon and northern California, and resource managers need critical, accurate water information in order to allocate water for agricultural and natural-resource uses. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified one way of saving water for wildlife during dry years through reducing irrigation for crops grown on 17,000 acres in the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
The amount of water that the irrigated crops use is known; what is not known is how much water a fallow cropland uses through evapotranspiration, or ET, the water evaporated from soil and transpired by plants.
Although much is known about ET from commercially important crops, little is published about actual ET from fallow croplands. To help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service compute the water savings that could be achieved by reducing irrigation, the USGS investigated the amount of ET from fallowed fields on the refuge.