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Science of fish mortality should be challenged

Herald and News 8/23/13 letter by Jerry Jones, Chiloquin

     Most of the summer is gone with no resumption of water deliveries to Upper Basin irrigators.

   To date, the task force that is supposed to meet regularly is just scheduling its third meeting.

   The state and federal governments conspired with the tribes to create this problem and destroy the opposition to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. Anyone signing on to the KBRA was required by the Oregon Water Resources Department to support awarding the tribes in-stream water rights, according to the present adjudication.

   The problem is, these water rights are based on average stream flow established by measuring stations operated by the watermaster.  

   The Adair case, which the Klamath tribesí water rights are based on, said that the tribes were entitled to enough water to sustain the wildlife they rely on for hunting and fishing. The state has gone far beyond that in granting water rights based on average annual flows. The result is upper basin irrigators may regularly have their water shut off, despite the fact there is no evidence of sucker mortality in upper basin streams from stream conditions.

   The only thing that will stop the current water shutoffs in the upper basin is a massive class-action lawsuit for damages based on the fact the sucker has not been damaged by present and past river conditions.

   Hundreds of thousands of juveniles successfully spawn in the river each year and die in the lake every August. The lawsuit should also demand the truth from the NFMS about the existence of wild Coho in the lower river based on genetic otolith tests which establish streams of origin.

   Ranchers should not give their scarce money to any water rights cause that is not willing to take this path because unless the current science or lack thereof is challenged, all other efforts are doomed to failure.

   Jerry Jones




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