Water adjudication - Adjudication and the Klamath water agreement
Adjudication in the Klamath Basin started more than 30 years ago.
More than 700 claims of water rights were filed, followed by more than 5,500 contests to those claims. About 200 of those contests have yet to be settled. Impact on the Endangered Species Act and involved federal agencies also require consideration.
“We have issues today that weren’t around in earlier adjudications,” said Tom Paul, deputy director of Oregon Water Resources Department.
In the background is the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. The document is in a holding pattern as PacifiCorp works with state and federal officials on the future of its Klamath River dams.
Released in January, the restoration agreement advocates for dam removal and also seeks to restore migratory fisheries and wildlife habitat, provide land to the Klamath Tribes and provide stable water and energy rates to irrigators. Federal and state lawmakers would be asked for close to $1 billion to finance the agreement.
Water users and other rights holders can’t wait for the restoration agreement to move forward, though. They have to continue the state’s adjudication process, with some seeking further settlement of issues to others pursuing litigation against opponents.
Exchange of information
Attorney Bill Ganong, who represents Klamath Irrigation District, and Bud Ullman, attorney for the Tribes, said claimants are exchanging information before depositions and testimony begins this fall. Further written testimony will be submitted beginning in the spring.
The Tribes are pursuing water rights on their former reservation in northern Klamath County as well as rights on Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River. Klamath Irrigation District, along with other irrigation and improvement districts, seeks a claim to water in the lake that feeds into the Klamath Reclamation Project.