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KBC News 1/8/16

KBC News notes on last Friday's meeting of Klamath Project irrigation districts to find water solutions in the aftermath of the failed controversial KBRA / Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, and the resignation of Klamath Water User's executive director.

Klamath Basin water districts' board members and managers held a public meeting in Merrill to discuss solutions since their KBRA/Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement terminated from lack of public and Congressional approval. More than 100 people attended.

Mark Stuntebeck, KID / Klamath Irrigation District manager, began explaining his opinion of everything he believes the KBRA promised to irrigators that the Project won't receive now since the KBRA was not approved. He said some of the promises the irrigators won't receive will be government $ to pay the Bureau of Reclamation for the Project debt. (KBC Note: the Bureau has refused for seemingly time immemorial to tell the irrigation districts exactly what they think the Project owes them. The early settlers paid off the debt of building the Klamath Project more than 1/2 a century ago.) He said there will be no money for involuntary land idling, and no money for pumping your well so you or your neighbor may keep irrigating if the Indians make a call to shut down irrigation water. He said the KBRA settlement partners...tribes and environmental groups... might not work with irrigators any more and will probably sue them. He said what's left is litigation.

Some Klamath Tribal members came in late and one said a solution would be to plant organic low-water crops. One was escorted from the meeting by TID/Tulelake Irrigation District Brad Kirby because he, a visitor, was not allowed to talk and loudly interrupt the meeting (Brad on right).

TID board president John Crawford said that everyone's input is important and he wanted to reconnect with the downriver tribes for solutions.

There were comments regarding the Klamath Water Users Association. Some districts feel they could not afford the dues to KWUA. Many members of KWUA advocated for every district to join.

Presently KWUA does not have an executive director.

KID member Dave Cacka urged everyone to put the past behind and move ahead with solutions.

KID board member Brent Cheyne brought a list of solutions to the meeting:

" Our ideas won't work if we do not:

1 state of Oregon must confront NMFS over not having an water right for all the water they divert to the Pacific Ocean

2  Administratively force NMFS to pay annually for every acre/foot of water taken and reimburse Klamath project districts on a pro rata basis for USBR operations charges.

3  All districts should deliver as per their adjudicated water right.

4  Work legislatively for districts to gain ownership of all reserve works facilities including Link River Dam.

5  Push hard to get the USBR out of the Klamath Basin. Klamath Project Office should be closed permanently!!

6  Work with the Klamath Tribes to jointly acquire a hydroelectric generating facility.  Form a PUD. Get a beneficial power rate for the entire community. Support Walden's Discussion bill with the caveat that all references to the KBRA be taken out on start fresh."

Tracy Liskey said we will have the same problems again if we leave out the off project irrigators; we need a basin solution. He said 90% of the problem with the KBRA was that all the meetings were in closed door executive sessions and people didn't know what was going on. "If we don't address issues tearing us apart, we can't bring this together."

Luther Horsely, KWUA past president of the board, said they couldn't talk about the settlement because they were gagged.

Many district boards did not allow their constituents to vote on the KBRA

Brad Kirby moderated the last half of the meeting. Rather than focus on the dead KBRA, he tried to come up with ideas on getting the district boards to meet often and soon to discuss possible solutions to our water availability issues and improve KWUA's outreach to all the districts.

 

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