Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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About the adjudication processThe Oregon Legislature established the water adjudication process about 100 years ago to acknowledge vested water rights, or water rights that existed before state water laws were established.
Herald and News 1/6/10
Adjudication impacts anyone who uses surface water. In the Klamath Basin, that primarily includes irrigators who use surface water for ranching and farming, the Klamath Tribes who want to preserve traditional fisheries and federal officials who need water to sustain wetlands and other lands.The process consists of two phases: administrative and judicial.
The administrative phase involves the state’s water resources department, which collects documentation pertaining to water right claims, as well as any contests or challenges to those claims.Through the state’s adjudicator, claims and challenges are settled and defined before an order is issued. The order determines how the water law is followed until the courts issue a final decree.
Nearly all the claims and challenges (were) are settled administratively. Those remaining — 56 claims and 201 challenges — involve the Klamath Tribes. An order is expected in 2012.Once there is an order, it is turned over to the local circuit court for any legal challenges.
The regular appeals process applies, and the issue can potentially appear before the U.S. Supreme Court. An adjudication order can be sent back through any administrative portion if the courts deem that necessary.It is not unheard of for water adjudication legal proceedings to continue for half a century or more.
Page Updated: Monday January 02, 2012 03:13 AM Pacific
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