Discussion continues about Klamath dam issue
Not all groups involved in settlement talks involving four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River as well as other issues involving agriculture, commercial fisheries and American Indian tribes agree on how well discussions are proceeding.
A spokesman for Pacific Power indicated earlier this week that there is still work and discussion needed before any kind of settlement can be reached.
In late April, Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, and Craig Tucker, a representative of the Karuk Tribe, indicated talks were making progress and the groups involved were showing increased cooperation and reconciliation.
Tucker said he expected a summary of a settlement framework in coming weeks, a nd Add ing t on sa id he wanted to begin planning a series of public meetings for community members to brief them on pertinent details.
Toby Freeman, regional com mu n ity d i rec t or for Pacific Power, painted a different picture earlier this week. He was less enthusiastic about progress in the settlement talks, indicating that a settlement was far from being achieved.
“We’re not on the verge of a water settlement,” he said. “There is still a lot of work to do.”
Others involved agreed there is still work ahead, but were more optimistic about how discussions were proceeding and when details of the settlement may be released publicly.
“We’re moving down the path, and we’ve got to let our people know about it, whether a settlement comes tomorrow or 10 years from now,” Addington said.
T went y- eight g roups, ranging from state and federal agencies, irrigators and fishermen to American Indian tribes and environmental organizations, have been involved in the settlement talks for the past two years.
While relicensing of the four dams was the primary reason for the talks, issues such as irrigation, declining salmon runs and improved relations between organizations also have cropped up.
Addington said progress on issues and on improving relations between organizations is remarkable, indicating that representatives of Pacific Power are not privy to every detail of the settlement’s progress.
Pablo Arroyave, director of the Klamath Falls office for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, shared Addington’s comments, saying there has been incredible progress despite the work still left to be done.
“It’s an indication of the difficulty of the settlement process,” he said, regarding the difference of opinion.