Thursday, February 26, 2004

For Immediate Release

Walden Announces Delivery of Reimbursements for Operation and Maintenance of Canals During Water Shut-Off

Delivery of reimbursement checks culminates three-year Walden effort to compensate Klamath Basin irrigators for operation and maintenance of canals during 2001 water year

WASHINGTON, DC ĖU.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation will shortly begin delivering reimbursement checks to irrigators in the Klamath Basin who were required by law to pay canal operation and maintenance fees during the 2001 water year despite receiving virtually no water. Walden introduced legislation in August 2001 to authorize the reimbursement of the fees to Klamath irrigation districts and other parties. Waldenís bill, the Klamath Basin Emergency Operation and Maintenance Refund Act of 2001 (HR 2828), passed the House on November 13, 2001, without opposition. The legislation passed unanimously in the Senate almost a year later and was signed into law by President Bush on December 17, 2002.

"This is great news for the farmers and ranchers of the Basin," said Walden. "The delivery of reimbursement checks to the Klamath Basin irrigators who were denied irrigation water is the culmination of a long struggle Iíve waged to help restore fairness in the Basin after the federal governmentís disastrous water shut-off. Iíve said many times that you shouldnít have to pay for something you donít receive, and thatís exactly what the law required of Klamath Basin irrigators who paid for the operation and maintenance of the canals even though they received virtually no water in 2001. I am proud to have led the effort in Congress to secure these reimbursements, and I look forward to tackling the many other projects that must be completed before the water troubles in the Basin are ultimately resolved."

 

Last year, Walden made a formal request for the funds needed to reimburse Klamath Basin irrigators. The annual Energy and Water Appropriations bill provided $2.6 million for the reimbursements, though the Bureau of Reclamation determined that only $2.3 million was required to refund the irrigators. More than $2 million will be delivered next week, with the balance being provided over the course of the next few months.

Dave Solem, Manager of the Klamath Irrigation District, applauded the release of the operation and maintenance reimbursements and praised Waldenís work on behalf of Klamath irrigators.

"We couldnít be more pleased with the release of these reimbursements," said Solem. "This has always been a matter of simple fairness, and Iím glad the irrigators who paid the operation and maintenance fees will finally get back the money they deserve. We sincerely appreciate Congressman Waldenís tenacity in pursuing these funds."

The reimbursements will be delivered to the following irrigation districts:

Klamath Irrigation District

Klamath Drainage District

Ady District Improvement Company

Enterprise Irrigation District

Pine Grove Irrigation District

Malin Irrigation District

Shasta View Irrigation District

Midland District Improvement Company

Pioneer District Improvement Company

Plevna District Improvement Company

Poe Valley Irrigation District

Sunnyside Irrigation District

Van Brimmer Irrigation District

To view a table detailing the amounts being delivered to each irrigation district, click on the following link: www.walden.house.gov/issues/klamath/oandm.pdf.

Congressman Walden represents the Second District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip and a member of both the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Resources.

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