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Council votes to back water pact with letter. 3-2 vote will send document before congressional debate
The Klamath Falls City Council narrowly approved sending a letter in support of Senate Bill 2379, also known as the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act.During a Monday afternoon meeting, the council voted, 3-2, to send the letter with the position they’re in favor of the suite of water-use agreements currently moving through Congress.
SB 2379 passed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee 17-5 on Nov. 13. The bill has to be ratified by both the House and the Senate before final approval by the president.The agreements contained in the bill would guarantee set water amounts for certain irrigation projects, protect fish habitats and demolish four PacificCorp hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Majority to support Klamath water accord
Councilor Dan Tofell said he was in favor of the act as the various agreements would stabilize water use rates.“I’m sure this agreement isn’t perfect … but this is a huge start,” Tofell said.
Councilor Trish Seiler acknowledged the agreements involve years of work from various communitystakeholders. She noted the language of SB 2379 has improved quite a bit from 2008, partly because its passage should cost less. “We have to move forward,” Seiler said. Dissenting council members Bill Adams and Bud Hart argued to reject the Senate bill or stay neutral, respectively.
Adams said he would rather follow in the footsteps of the Klamath County Board of Commissioners, which approved sending an opposition letter 3-0 on Nov. 21.“I don’t know if I believe that if we pass this, everything is going to be hunky-dory,” Adams said.
Members of the public spoke on both sides of the issue before the councilors cast their votes. Several farmers argued for supporting SB 2379, while county commissioner Tom Mallams reiterated his opposition.According to Mallams, the bill would have a greater chance of passing if the dam removal agreement was cut out. He said the other agreements have valid points.
Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said SB 2379 should put an end to unexpected water shutoffs and allow area farmers to better plan their growing seasons.“These agreements are good for agriculture, they’re good for economic development,” Addington said.
Exact dates for when the letter would be reviewed and sent were not discussed. The vote means Mayor Todd Kellstrom will write the letter with assistance from city staff.City Manager Nathan Cherpeski said Tuesday the letter might be ready sometime this week, or by the beginning of next week at the latest. He said the Monday vote means the letter will not need final approval from the council.
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Page Updated: Sunday December 07, 2014 11:12 PM Pacific
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