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New drought water ruling proposed by officials

August 16, 2014 12:00 am

A new rule that would allow water for human consumption and stock watering during drought in Klamath County has been proposed by the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD).

The rule, which must be approved by the Water Resources Commission after a public rule-making process, may grant a preference to water rights for stock water and human consumption when the governor declares a drought emergency in the area, according to a news release. The rule would allow water to continue flowing for these uses when water would otherwise be shut off during an adjudication water call by a senior user.

OWRD adjudication regulation, which provides surface water rights based on priority date of property claims, was first implemented in the Klamath Basin last year. The older the claim date, the more senior the water right — junior water users could have irrigation supply shut off if a senior water right makes a claim to that water.

“Whenever there is a drought declaration by the governor, essentially, it would put these rules into effect,” said Racquel Rancier, an OWRD spokeswoman.
Comments regarding the proposal can be submitted at a public meeting Sept. 18, from 6 to 7 p.m., in the Oregon Institute of Technology Mount Mazama Room.
According to the release, in 2013 and 2014 Gov. John Kitzhaber declared drought emergencies in Klamath County. During that time, to ensure residents and livestock had access to water, temporary rules were put in place to prevent the water from being regulated off when water calls were made. The rules are good for 180 days.

According to Rancier, the public rule-making process may help prevent the temporary rules from expiring Sept. 27.
According to an OWRD fact sheet, the rulemaking process does not address, impact or modify how the department determines whether groundwater and surface water are connected for the purposes of regulation, nor does it determine if a well interferes with surface water. The rules define human consumption for “drinking, cooking and sanitation,” and stock watering as “the use of water for consumption by domesticated animals and wild animals held in captivity as pets or for profit.”


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              Page Updated: Saturday August 16, 2014 11:44 AM  Pacific

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