Not everyone poised to OK ‘settlement’ of water issues
Conflicts likely to remain once proposal is public
PacifiCorp, which built a series of dams on the river below Klamath Falls, says it won’t agree to any settlement that costs its customers anything.
Basin irrigators who get water from the Klamath River system but are not part of the Klamath Reclamation Project fear they’ll lose grievously through the proposal likely to surface, but can’t be more specific because they’re bound by a confidentiality agreement.
In addition, at least a couple of environmental groups that once were part of the process but left it say they’ll oppose guarantees of water to irrigators that come at the expense of fish. Yet guarantees of water are what agriculture needs.
organizations have been in a process that was
initiated by PacifiCorp three years ago. What
started as something to deal with the
Portland-based utility’s application to renew
its license for the dams on the river has
broadened to include other issues such as fish,
stream flows, habitat restoration and economic
Dams at fault?
The dams are seen by downstream tribes and fishermen as salmon killers because they prevent salmon from moving into the upper Klamath to spawn. There is no fish passage for migrating salmon on four of the six dams. The one farthest south is Iron Gate Dam, a few miles south of the Oregon-California border and 190 river miles from the ocean.
PacifiCorp’s 50-year lease was up in 2006, but has been renewed on a temporary basis as the parties struggled through a complex process on a particularly complex river system.
At its core, the issue is simple — there isn’t enough water for all of the uses the federal government promised. Those promises came at a time when the government — and most other people — didn’t pay a lot of attention to such things as tribal treaties and endangered species. Such things now have moved to the front of the line. In those earlier years, much of the wetlands in the Klamath area were converted to farm lands as the Basin was part of a successful effort by the United States to produce homes, jobs and inexpensive food. The Basin has changed in ways that are likely to be impossible to completely undo, even if the will and money is there to try.
That doesn’t mean that change — even radical change — can’t happen. Getting rid of the constant litigation and creating certainty of water is worth something.
That’s where we’ll leave the issue until we see what’s in the proposal.
Today's editorial was written by Pat Bushey
JIM wrote on Dec 26, 2007 9:49 AM:
Rick wrote on Dec 26, 2007 2:00 AM: