Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Fighting for Our Right to Irrigate Our Farms and Caretake Our Natural Resources

Statements, questions and answers by irrigators' attorney Roger Marzulla, 3/12/03, kbc report

D.C Attorney Roger Marzulla, representing Klamath Basin irrigation districts and irrigators, spoke with a crowd of approximately 200 people at the Klamath County Fairgrounds March 11, 2003. 

The Federal Government has delayed the 2001 lawsuit since last summer, wanting the federal judge to stay the case until after Klamath Basin water is adjudicated.  This could take from 10 to 20 years, "We said, justice delayed is justice denied." "This is unacceptable, un-American."

Also filed recently is a breach of contract claim--irrigators had a contract with the U.S. gov't for water delivery, and the water was not delivered. Our government violated the Klamath Compact, signed by Eisenhower, which guarantees water rights will not be impaired without just compensation by the government, explained Marzulla.

"We may not receive all our water this year...don't let the government take your water.  What makes you think they'll pay you this year if they haven't paid for your water in 2001?"

"King George said, 'We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.' "

Jim Ottoman, long-time basin farmer, spoke up that farmers don't know what to plant, banks won't loan, and mortgages need to be paid.  There is uncertainty when wells are going dry from over pumping of ground water.

The crowd, who believed in our present administration, were concerned and bewildered why  Norton and Ashcroft are stonewalling justice and resolve in the Klamath Basin crisis.

A question asked was, "Is the water bank legal when they say you must give up water or everyone will be shut off this year?"  Marzulla answered with a question:  Is it fair...I'll take water for half its worth..I think water bank is a desperate effort by BOR compared to Hitler...if you take Czechoslovakia, and say if we give you this, will you go along with it? I can get you to plant a crop and then take your water and give you a few dollars, exclaimed Marzulla, referring to the Bureau of Reclamation's water bank.

Marzulla said that Sue Ellen Wooldridge and Gail Norton can't blame Clinton now like they did in 2001.

When Fred Fahner brought up that $200,000 has been spent so far, and how much more will this cost, Marzulla replied that he hadn't expected this administration to fight us like the last administration. "Do you really think the government believes that after 100 years, you have no water rights?

Katheryn Van Tuyl inquired about Marzulla's interaction with Interior Secretary Gail Norton at Mt. Lakes Legal Foundation. Marzulla says that she believes the Klamath situation is being handled properly.  The Secretary is being told it's a mess, there are multiple claims to the same water, and she's not getting the straight story.  If people who work for you don't let you know what's going on, it's hard to know.

Marnie Morrow, member of the Klamath Tribes, said, "This sucker fish has never made a living for me, my family, or anyone I know." "This sucker fish has never brought in an income like farming, cattle, grain or hay..." "If the government says water belongs to the Klamath tribe, I will give my water to you, and water of my kids and my grandkids."  There was much applause.

Claud Haggerty, Malin preacher and farmer, says the government stole his water.  He encouraged everyone to write letters, fax or email, so the courts can proceed in this case.  link to sample letter.




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