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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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 KWUA centennial celebration speech
by Greg Addington, KWUA Executive Director 10/11/05 at Reames Golf and Country Club

Good evening everyone. Thank you for taking a few hours this busy harvest season to spend some time with us. In the 7 months that I have been on the job here in Klamath I have met some tremendous people and learned so much. If it were all to end tomorrow (which by the way I am not advocating for) I would be a better person for having been here.

We have come together here tonight to celebrate 100 years of successful partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation. This is not only a time to stand up and be recognized with our partners, but more, a time for our partners and us to stand tall together. With all the controversy and strife that you all have to deal with for being "Klamath farmers", we sometimes forget the real story, the success story.

We are not only celebrating a valuable public/private partnership we also celebrate this project. The Klamath project IS the most efficient and beneficial in the world! Water used to come to this basin to die via evaporation, now because of this project and affordable power, that water is re-circulated up to 7 times and ultimately finds its way to the Klamath River where that water provides fuel for power generation and increased flows for fish. In addition, this project provides some of the best wildlife and waterfowl habitat in the country. This is reason to stand tall and be proud.

A hundred years ago this partnership was formed because of the people of this Basin. Many have benefited from this partnership. The states of Oregon and California have clearly benefited, the nation has benefited, fish and wildlife resources have benefited, local communities were formed and continue to benefit, electrical rate payers have benefited from the low cost hydro-power resource, and all of us in this room have benefited. These are reasons for us to stand tall and be proud.

State of the Association

I was asked to give you all an update on the state of the Klamath Water Users Association. To inform you of what we have been doing, and where we are going in the future. We want to take this opportunity to say that we appreciate the efforts of Reclamation and the Bush Administration. The use of sound science in the NAS Report, the Undepleted Flow Study coupled with the work of Congress on updating the ESA are all things that were desperately needed. But, we will need this Administrationís continued commitment in the future as well.

What I really want to focus on now are the reasons I took this job and what the true key to success for the Klamath Water Users is.

This celebration gives us the opportunity to look back at the last hundred years. The issues that led to the formation of the Klamath Water Users are much the same today as they were 50, or even 100 years ago. But what the past was really about was the people. The people who homesteaded here, developed the land and founded our communities. The people that had the vision to build a reclamation project that is the most efficient and beneficial in the world.

Today we work on issues like TMDLís, Flow Studies, Recovery Planning, Biological Opinions, Power Rates and Reclamation Contracts. We do public relations and education using science and facts to support our positions. We work with a myriad of federal, state and local agencies whose names and programs are branded in our minds by the acronyms that define them. We learn the processes, the laws and the regulations. We go to Salem, Sacramento and Washington D.C. to lobby elected officials. We defend our beliefs and values in the courts where we assert what we know to be our rights.

Why do we do all this? We do it because of the people, because of the families that make up the communities we love, and to preserve our heritage. It is above all else, because of the people.

Today you have a committed and dedicated group of leaders amongst you. The Water Users Board of Directors is a very talented group, they can cater a meal, or break down the proís and cons of a technical report from Fish and Wildlife or USGS. They can put on a field hearing and rally on a moments notice, fill the streets with 18,000 people, then turn around and articulately and intelligently provide testimony to Congress. Your organization is in good hands.

The future for this organization, our communities and your families depends on you. It depends on people getting involved, making decisions and guiding our path. We need to identify and cultivate the leaders of this organization for the next hundred years. And that is every bit as important as all of the technical and legal issues that we work on today.

You know, some of my board members and the committee that helped plan this event felt it was very important that I take center stage at this event. That I am visible as the new leader of the Water Users, so I stand here before you tonight reluctantly.

I am reluctant, not because I donít think this is important, not because I donít want to contribute and be a part of this celebration. I am reluctant because this Association is not about me. As I see it, this organization and this celebration is about you. It is about water users and irrigation districts, a dependable water supply and affordable power rates. It is about a way of life and the people that are the foundation of the strong agricultural communities in the Klamath Basin

My job and my role is simply to work with all of you and the future leaders of the Association to make sure those things continue.

It is about people. The key to success and the reason I am here today lies with all of you.

Thank You.





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