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Governor watches Basin water

 February 16, 2005


Like farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin, Oregon's governor is waiting on the rain.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski said he'll decide whether to declare a drought in the Basin once spring is underway.

"A lot of it has to do with how much rain we get in March," he said.

He said he'll decide sometime in April. The Klamath County Board of Commissioners, with the urging of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials, asked for a drought declaration in January. The Oregon Drought Council, made up of state and federal officials, advises Kulongoski on his decision.

Kulongoski was in Klamath Falls Tuesday and today to visit educational and vocational training sites. Tuesday he met with the Herald and News' editorial board, where he discussed water issues.

While the possible drought declaration could affect people in the Basin this summer, Kulongoski says he's confident a group formed by him and his California counterpart in October will help lead to a long-term solution on the Klamath water issues.

The Klamath River Watershed Coordination Group brings together officials with the states and four federal agencies. Introduced to the public in October, the group had been meeting informally for a year and a half and plans to have a meeting in Klamath Falls in March.

Kulongoski said the group pulls together key people involved with the water issues.

"I felt what I had down here was a bunch of planets circling around in a black void," he said.

Other groups have tried to get to a solution but often couldn't get past the divisions of their members, Kulongoski said. There needed to be a fresh set of faces at the negotiating table.

"There is no group that is going to walk out of this and say, 'I won,' " said Gov. Ted Kulongoski. "We just don't have the resources to go around."




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