Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Farmers begin new fight
January 24, 2005
For years, the biggest battle in the Klamath River
Basin has been over water.
Power company PacifiCorp has notified state
officials of the expiration of a deal that for
decades has supplied farmers on the
Oregon-California line with some of the cheapest
Farmers unable to afford the new rates could see
their crops evaporate from the arid landscape.
Farmers have allotted thousands of dollars to
challenge the rate increases before federal agencies
and the state Public Utility Commission.
''This is a tough, tough problem down there,'' said
Jon Coney, a spokesman for PacifiCorp.
Meanwhile, environmental groups see the rate
increases as a free-market tool that will eliminate
marginal farms and free up water for fish and birds.
Farmers say the low rates represent PacifiCorp's
payment for the use of local water to generate the
power it sells. But the company counters that the
water carries so many endangered species
restrictions today that it's no longer as valuable.
''Is it fair to have an irrigator in Deschutes
County paying a higher rate to create a lower rate
for someone in Klamath Falls?'' asks Bob Jenks,
executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of
Oregon, a statewide power watchdog.
''We're talking about a community interest here, because every business is going to be affected by the power rates in one way or another,'' said farmer Ed Bair. ''Farms are just part of the picture.''
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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