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District leaves water group
KDD says decision was budgetary
By SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 2/19/11
Klamath Drainage District is no longer part of the Klamath Water Users Association, an irrigator advocacy group that represents the Klamath Reclamation Project.
Klamath Drainage District, one of 18 major irrigation districts on the Project, has been a member of the association for "longer than I can remember," said Luther Horsley, president of the three-member board.
"The board made a budgetary decision," he said. "The largest line item in the KDD budget was (the Klamath Water Users Association) assessment."
Since 1953, the Klamath Water Users Association has represented irrigator interests on the Klamath Reclamation Project, whose water is controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Irrigation districts pay KWUA a membership fee determined by acres of land in the district.
Horsley said Klamath Water Users Association membership has been beneficial, but the district was looking at raising their irrigators' assessments to cover a budget deficit. Instead, the board voted to not pay the assessment, effectively withdrawing the district's membership.
"Nobody wanted to see (Klamath Drainage District) go," said Greg Addington, director of the Klamath Water Users Association. "As far as I'm concerned, I hope we can get them back this year or next year. . We want to represent as much of the Project as we can. We're more effective if we're united."
Financial hit
Klamath Water Users Association will take a financial hit, since Klamath Drainage District is one of the larger districts on the Project.
But the association picked up more than 13,000 acres this year, mostly leased farmland on refuges.
"(The loss) is being largely offset," Addington said. "We're strong as ever.
"Next month we have officer elections. We just filled new spots on the board. We have new faces and new ideas coming in. The organization is continuing to do well and represent a wide variety of interests on the Project."
According to the rumor mill, Klamath Drainage District broke from the association because of a dispute with Klamath Irrigation District.
But the presidents of the boards - Klamath Drainage District's Horsley and Klamath Irrigation District's Dave Cacka - say that while there was some years-long friction between the districts over water usage, they had resolved the issue.
"Districts have issues with districts over things all the time," Cacka said. "We're negotiating things all the time. It's not an uncommon situation (to) be at odds with another district over time as you work things out. It's just the nature of the business."
Horsley said "time will tell" whether Klamath Drainage District rejoins the association.
"We'll take another look at the acreage assessment and revisit the issue again at the next budget meeting" in the spring, he said.
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