Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Klamath Water Users Association, www.kwua.org
For Immediate Release
Klamath Water Users Applaud
Signing of Landmark Watershed Agreement
Klamath Project water users enthusiastically supported today’s announcement that the states of California and Oregon and the Bush Administration have signed the historic "Klamath River Watershed Coordination Agreement". The agreement –signed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, and four of President Bush’s cabinet level secretaries – underscores the commitment of these parties to solve the fisheries challenges of the Klamath River on a watershed – wide basis.
"This is a great step forward, and we’re looking forward to working with this intergovernmental group to solve the challenges of the Klamath River on a coordinated, watershed-wide basis," said Steve Kandra, president of the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA).
Last year, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a study that confirmed that the Klamath Basin issues must be dealt with in an integrated and comprehensive way for a lasting solution of the challenges facing the basin. The state-federal Klamath agreement announced today reflects that philosophy.
"It is clear that the NAS committee hoped its report might become a blueprint for a more constructive and solution-oriented approach to the issues in the Klamath Basin," said Dan Keppen, KWUA Executive Director. "The state and federal governments have appropriately signaled that they want to take that blueprint and build."
The NAS committee report makes clear that merely closing the spigot on the Klamath Project will not solve the problems facing Klamath Basin fisheries, and that strategy obviously was disastrous for farming and ranching communities. The coordination agreement recognizes that message and promotes a unified effort that many water users believe is much needed.
Local water users saluted the completion of this bi-partisan agreement, at a time when public political debate is intense.
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"We are very encouraged by this show of leadership by the Bush Administration, Governor Kulongoski, and Governor Schwarzenegger," said Mark Campbell, who manages a ranch near Klamath Falls. "This agreement holds the promise that focused efforts and collaboration will serve the interests of all stakeholders in the basin."
An important part of this agreement is that it supports the Conservation Implementation Program (CIP), a work in progress proposed by federal agencies to coordinate management actions in the Klamath River watershed. The CIP would meld a scientific advisory body, local communities, and resource agencies to identify, coordinate and resolve the Basin’s critical water quality, water quantity and fish and wildlife restoration challenges.
KWUA is working with other producer groups and local government to develop guidelines that make the CIP workable and acceptable to Klamath Basin communities.
"The agreement provides real hope that we can get away from eternal conflict and focus on solutions," said Mike Byrne, who ranches near Tulelake, California. "We stand ready to support the agencies as they follow through on the goals they have articulated."
The Klamath Water Users Association is a nonprofit corporation that has represented Klamath Irrigation Project irrigators since 1953. KWUA members include rural irrigation districts and other public agencies, as well as private irrigation companies operating in California and Oregon.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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