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All sign on KBRA extension

Water, dam agreement deadline extended to 2014

by SAMANTHA TIPLER, Herald and News 1/1/13

SCWUA responds to KBRA extension

Just in time for the Dec. 31 deadline, the 42 parties that originally signed the Klamath Basin Restoration Ag reement have approved extending it to 2014.

An email sent by Ed Sheets, facilitator for the Klamath Basin settlement agreements, announced the signatories Monday. As originally drafted, the KBRA would have terminated on Dec. 31 unless Congress passed legislation, according to a press release issued by the Klamath Water Users Association.

What is KBRA?

The KBRA aims to remove four dams on the Klamath River, establish reliable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators, restore fish habitat and help the Klamath Tribes acquire a 92,000-acre parcel called the Mazama Tree Farm.

A related document, the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, does not have a termination date and the amendments passed do not affect the proposed dam removal date of 2020, according to a press release from the Karuk Tribe.

Extension a ‘no-brainer’

Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said holiday scheduling, along with debates within individual parties, led to the deadline approaching decision.

“At the end of the day it was not that difficult of a decision,” Addington said. “The people whose jobs it is to make sure there is water in the ditches see this as a no-brainer.”

Rob Unruh, vice-president of the KWUA, said in the press release, “It really is a no-brainer, there is plainly no downside to extending the deadline and the upside is tremendous for our communities.”

What’s next?

With the extension official, this leaves KBRA supporters back in the waiting game, as Congress must approve any further progress on the agreements.

“We need for our congressional delegation to show us some leadership on this issue,” Addington said. “Whether it’s a hearing, a field hearing, getting to the bottom of the controversy — people for and against — everyone should be heard. … We would at least like to see Congress go on the record and debate these issues. I don’t know if legislation is going to happen soon or not, but the agreement has provided benefit to a lot of parties even without legislation.”

Addington has hope that Sen. Ron Wyden’s chairman position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will help.

“We’ll be looking to him to make something happen,” Addington said.

Divided citizenry

Addington also admitted KBRA supporters may need to do some work on their home turf, where citizens are deeply divided into pro- and anti-KBRA.

“ There’s been some lines drawn with this thing, people are for or against it,” Addington said. “For us it’s not about the dam or extemporaneous stuff. It’s about water delivery. We need to do a better job of communicating internally and locally about what we think the agreement does and doesn’t do.”

stipler@heraldandnews.com   @TiplerHN; H&N staff reporter Devan Schwartz contributed to this article.



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