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Water district board members meet Friday (in Merrill at 1 to find solutions since KBRA failed)

by LACEY JARRELL, Herald and News 1/6/16

Representatives from the 18 irrigation entities that make up the Klamath Project will meet Friday to discuss the future of agriculture in the Basin.

At a Tuesday Klamath Water and Power Agency board of directors meeting, chairman Dave Cacka said he hopes the meeting will bolster solidarity among Klamath Project irrigators.

“Right now — and this is my personal opinion — we have a fractured irrigation community. There are a lot of wild ideas about what people think can be done and then there’s the reality of what can be done,” Cacka said.

Enterprise Irrigation District Manager Shane McDonald said he’s not sure what will transpire at the meeting, but his main goal is creating a more unified voice among irrigation entities.

“We’re unifying, not diversifying,” McDonald said.

McDonald said focused goals and a solid, unified voice among Klamath Project districts, improvement districts and ditch companies will create more bargaining power for farmers negotiating water allocations each year.

“I think we all have the same goals. We all have differences, but by and large we all have the same goals: to irrigate and have viable and productive irrigated agriculture,” said Tulelake Irrigation District Manager Brad Kirby. “We’re stronger together, and we need to stay together.”

Much of the apparent disjointedness stems from a water settlement package — the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act — failing to pass Congress and become law last year. Under the agreement, Klamath Project irrigators were slated to receive a substantial block of irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake each year if certain instream flows were met in the lake’s tributaries.

McDonald said he would like irrigators to find a way to guarantee annual water deliveries.

“We still don’t know what we’re going to get year to year,” McDonald said.

Without the agreement, irrigators are at the mercy of the weather, and irrigators could continue facing water shutoffs. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. Friday in the Merrill Civic Center, 365 W. Front St. in Merrill.


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