The Klamath Water Users Association has named Scott White as its new executive director

Herald and News by Lacey Jarrell 1/20/16

Klamath Water Users AssociationScott White, the current watermaster for the Oregon Water Resources Department's Klamath Falls office, has been named the executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association.

The Klamath Water Users Association has named Scott White as its new executive director.

“I am excited about an opportunity that allows me to advocate for people and issues important to the Klamath Basin and the West,” White said.

According to a news release, White earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at Oregon State University and a master’s in business administration at Corban University.

White has worked for Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) for eight years.

White’s career with OWRD began in Pendleton, where he worked as a well inspector. White later moved to Condon, Ore., and served as that area’s watermaster. He has been the Klamath Falls watermaster since 2011.

Water Users Board President Rob Unruh said nine people applied for the executive director position. The Water Users’ 11-member board of directors, which guides the association’s activities, made the decision to hire White last week, the release said.

“Scott is widely respected locally and well known in the Klamath Basin water community and throughout the state,” Unruh said. “His knowledge, background and integrity make him an ideal fit for our organization.”

Organization crossroads

White is joining Water Users when the organization is at a crossroads. Hope for a much-anticipated water settlement the association tirelessly advocated for over the last decade is fading, and irrigators are haggling about whether they should even remain members of Water Users.

“I think what’s important right now is unity,” White said. “It’s kind of broken my heart since I’ve been here, to see the division in this Basin. If I can help in any way to put that behind us, and everybody come together again, I think that would be amazing for the Basin as a whole.”

“Whatever direction (the board) wants me to go, I’ll do that, but in all honesty, unity in this Basin is very important and crucial for moving forward,” he added.

Unruh said the Water Users board is confident the experience White brings to the position will be an asset to the association and to the community.

“Now is a critical time for moving KWUA forward and Scott’s understanding of local issues, laws and people will be an incredible asset in that regard,” Unruh said.

Water adjudication

Unruh pointed out that adjudication water law — which assigns a first in time, first in right water priority — was first instituted in 2013. The law required watermaster White to turn off irrigators’ water if their use was interfering with someone else’s water right.

“As volatile as that could have been, I think Scott handled that better than anyone could have asked,” Unruh said.

In the release, White said he recognizes the complexity of the job and the importance of agriculture to the region’s economy.

“I want to continue the good work and challenge the irrigation community to do the heavy lifting needed to move forward together in a unified front,” White said.

Former Water Users executive director Greg Addington resigned in December. Unruh said Addington will act in the future as a consultant for the association.