groundwater rules: Great news or just another Trojan Horse?
reading this article, one would wonder why anyone would
object to this new temporary rule, which would shut off 7
wells instead of 140. The 7 wells are within 500 feet of a
surface water source and the 140 wells are within 1 mile.
friend of mine has often warned,” the devil is in the
details.” I suppose this only applies if you actually read
the rule itself.
Temporary rules a bait and switch
reduction in wells being shut off to 7 is only for a
two-year period. By 2021, permanent rules will be put in
place. Does anyone believe the 500 foot distance will
remain? Most believe the distance will return to 1 mile,
which will then put all 140 wells back in the bull’s eye.
rule is supposed to be for only the Upper Klamath Basin. But
the actual wording in the temporary rule, (690-025-0040)
states “In the Klamath Basin, groundwater and surface water
are hydraulically connected” and “Wells that withdraw
groundwater in the Klamath Basin reduce groundwater
discharge and surface water flow.”
Water Resources Department, (OWRD), admitted that this
wording means the entire Klamath Basin, not just the Upper
Klamath Basin. This wording will put all wells in the entire
Klamath Basin at risk as well as other areas in Oregon. Does
this paint a very different picture from the “scaled back”
OWRD orders a well to be turned off, they are not claiming
that the well in question is interfering in any substantial
amount. Their computer model only has to indicate that your
well may be keeping one drop of water from reaching a
surface water source with no site specific science. OWRD
actually admitted that proving you are innocent is not even
Statutory authority questioned
minute! I was always led to believe that in the United
States of America, you are innocent until proven guilty. I
guess this concept no longer applies in Oregon.
Unfortunately in Oregon, what is actually law and what is
policy doesn’t always match.
direction may also open up third-party litigation against
previous and future DEQ contamination sites. There are at
least 380 sites in Klamath County.
do not believe OWRD has the statutory authority to shut off
a well under the existing rules. Many lawsuits have been
filed by well owners in the Klamath Basin, challenging
OWRD’s overreach. OWRD already spent their current
litigation budget of $835,628. They were given an additional
$1,352,526 that will last until June, 2019.
temporary hiatus is a blatant attempt to reduce OWRD’s
litigation costs in the Klamath Basin. Even though, they
claim this is not the case. Now, OWRD is looking for an
additional $1 million for future litigation costs.
state agencies such as this, no wonder Gov. Kate Brown is
looking for $2.6 billion dollars in additional taxes.
Whatever happened to living within your means?
Decades ago, OWRD was very supportive of actual beneficial
uses of state water. There was a great amount of trust for
the department’s actions. Those feelings of trust are
nonexistent today. Just ask any surface or groundwater
irrigator, Cities of Klamath Falls, Chiloquin, Bly and
numerous commercial businesses in Klamath County, and you
may begin to understand where the lack of trust comes from.
little history may help explain where the lack of trust
originates. In 1991, all irrigators received a letter from
OWRD pertaining to the then ongoing surface water
adjudication in the Klamath Basin.
sentence reads “If you only use water from a groundwater
source or from a municipal water supply then you need not do
anything further. You will not be a party to this
other words, if you pump from a well or get your water from
a municipal water supply, you were simply denied any
possible Constitutional due process. In 2001 and more
currently, surface water users were encouraged by OWRD to
drill a well, and then told “your water will be safe.”
has not worked out well either. Irrigators were asked to
give additional evidence including actual scientific data
and tests. This was done but was ignored. OWRD has ignored
some of their own testing that does not support their
are some good, honest people that work within OWRD. Some
rationalize their actions by saying “they are just doing
their job.” That was a common defense during the Nuremberg
Trials. I hoped OWRD would sincerely attempt rebuilding that
trust. That does not seem to be the case.
line is this: I would love to have water available for two
years. But allowing this type of language, “In the Klamath
Basin, ground water and surface water are hydraulically
connected,” is just another gigantic Trojan Horse that the
Klamath Basin cannot allow to happen.
would encourage all to attend and make public comments at
the hearings. Hearings information is attached:
governing control of well use in the Upper Klamath Basin.
Comments due by
March 4 at 5 p.m.
requests public comment on whether other options should be
considered for achieving the rule's substantive goals while
reducing negative economic impact of the rule on business.
Racquel Rancier, rules coordinator, 503-986-0828; email
Street NE Ste. A, Salem,OR 97301
3:30 p.m.; Oregon Water Resources Dept.l 725 Summer
Street NE, Suite A, Room 124 Salem, OR 97301
- Feb. 26, 1 p.m. to 3
p.m.; officer Ivan Gall, Oregon Institute of Technology,
3201 Campus Drive, Mt. Scott Room; Klamath Falls, OR
1990 OWRD letter to well
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