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http://www.heraldandnews.com/articles/2005/07/28/viewpoints/letters/letters.txt
 
( Chiloquin Dam) Proposal threatens rights
Herald and News letter 7/28/05

If the issue on the Chiloquin Dam removal passes,1864 water rights will pass into history even before the courts have a chance to make a decision. There is no legal way, by Oregon law, for the government to allow for the diversions of water from one river to another, as from the Sprague River to the Williamson River. What the federal government is proposing is a document where owners of property in another part of the state agree to hold the Modoc Point Irrigation District harmless for this diversion process.

This document applies only to the present generation. When the property changes ownership, either through the passing of the present owner or sale, the new owners are no longer bound by the agreement and can take the issue back into court, where we could completely lose our water rights.

The government is going to give us a federal mitigation fund to run our new pump plant. The fund is supposed to make the district whole when the dam is removed. This one-time payment comes with strings. We don't have any say in the design of the pump station or control over its building and ultimately no control over the mitigation funds, as the Klamath County treasurer, by Oregon law, will manage them for the district.

Another condition is the tax consequence incurred by this "gift." It could be substantial, and there are no discussions or even proposals on the table to deal with this. The people of the district could become liable for this tax. The gift tax is a 47 percent federal tax, and a percentage based on the number of acres one owns could be passed on to them.

The law in Oregon says that surplus funds, which mitigation funds would be considered, can be invested only in state or federal bonds. These bonds pay on average, 3 percent or 4 percent. This will not cover the cost of inflation.

We are going from a gravity feed system to an electric pump system. It will require power costs which will be substantial in the coming years, maintenance costs, capital costs, replacement costs, tax on the proposed endowment and mitigation money, just to name a few.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Reclamation are using the Endangered Species Act to threaten and intimidate the Modoc Point Irrigation District into removing the Chiloquin Dam.

The dam has been in existence for almost 100 years. During that time all the fish endangered or not have long ago chosen their spawning grounds. The government "experts" can't agree from year to year just how many fish spawn upstream. But now that it is politically expedient, "experts" are trying to tell us that our dam is stopping this migration and therefore needs to be removed.

I find it strange that in all the "collaborators meetings" federal officials Doug Tedrick and Cindy Williams refused to sign the attendance sheets. Why are these federal agency people afraid to put their name on a sheet of paper that says they attended a meeting? The government representatives have not in fact signed a single sheet of paper to back up their promises. Does this sound like a government we want to trust and remove our dam before we get written documents to protect our water rights?

I am for the dam removal in a conscientious, proper and legal manner where our rights are secure and our concerns have been met first.

Voting is in person as there are no absentee ballots. Vote no on the ballot given you when you show up to vote. This ballot gives the district board the right to enter into an agreement without bringing the issue and facts back to us for our vote first. When you arrive to vote, they will tell you this vote is only to allow the board to continue negotiation on the dam removal and diversion issues. But, read your ballot: "Resolution by Modoc Point Irrigation District (MPID) advising MPID Board of Directors to Make Necessary Agreements for the Pump and Facilities Project, Including The Removal of the Chiloquin Dam and Change in Point of Diversion."

Doug White

Chiloquin

The writer is a former member of the Modoc board.

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