Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Council mulls options for drought response;
possible well shutoff draws varied reactions
  by LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 6/18/14
     During a work session Tuesday, the Klamath Falls City Council decided its next move to learn about options for mitigating the impacts of two city wells slated for service reductions should be to meet with the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD).

   “I think it would be a good idea for staff to meet with (Kyle) Gorman and put everything on the table as a starting point,” said City Councilwoman Trish Seiler.

   Kyle Gorman, the OWRD  South Central Region manager, said the two city wells and 10 private wells that received shutoff notices were deemed to have “timely and effective” impacts on surface water. He also pointed out that at the bottom of each notice is a statement providing an opportunity for the recipient to file a judicial petition for regulation review or to petition the director for a review.

   The wells in question are the Fremont well, near Nevada Avenue, and the Wocus well, which is north of Klamath Falls, near Cove Point. City Manager Nathan Cherpeski said the Fremont well is high in manganese and is not a key piece of the city water system; however, the Wocus well is a vital piece of infrastructure and provides primary water service for the north part of the city, including Sky Lakes Medical Center and the Oregon Institute of Technology. Sky Lakes prepares to protect its water usage if necessary  

   Paul Stewart, president and CEO of Sky Lakes, said hospital staff are concerned
about the prospects of having hospital water curtailed or shutoff. He hinted that the hospital may participate in voluntary conservation measures, but said the city should simultaneously investigate or challenge the city well shutoff orders.

   Stewart said Sky Lakes will investigate its individual rights and be ready to take action if needed.

   “We’ll be ready to pull the trigger,” he said.

   Cherpeski said in addition to the current well curtailments, the city is concerned about future impacts to the Conger wells. He said compared to other Basin water users, city use is relatively low: Last year the city pumped 7,500 acre-feet and returned about 1,850 acrefeet of treated water to the river system.

   “Our net loss from water is not huge compared to the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of acre-feet used in other processes,” he said.  

   County Commissioner Tom Mallams, who owns a ranch in the upper Basin, said he does not believe the state has any authority to regulate wells.

   “When they come and tell me to turn my well off, I’m going to tell them to pound sand,” Mallams said.  

   Gorman said adjudication works on a prior appropriation principle, meaning junior water right holders will experience curtailment if senior users’ water requirements are not being met.

   However, the OWRD is limited to regulating wells within one mile of a surface water source boundary. For regulation to happen outside the one-mile boundary, the land must be designated a critical groundwater area, which the Klamath Basin is not.

   In addition to voluntary conservation measures, Cherpeski suggested landscaping city properties with native desert plants.  

   “I have no objections, because we do live in an arid climate, to some kind of conservation measures. But you know what, I just don’t like somebody coming in and telling me what to do when I don’t feel like it’s any of their business,” City Councilman Bill Adams said.

    ljarrell@heraldandnews.com  ; @LMJatHandN  

  Kyle Gorman, the Oregon Water Resources Department South Central Region manager, discusses notices the city received to restrict service of two of its wells.


   H&N photo by Lacey Jarrell



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Friday June 20, 2014 03:05 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2014, All Rights Reserved