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Off-Project users list demands

Groups seek changes to water agreement

(KBC NOTE: according to someone involved in the process, this was a list of possible changes produced in a meeting between on and off Project irrigators, NOT a definite demand list. It has not gone before their boards yet.)

by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 2/6/08
Next hearing
        The Klamath County Board of Commissioners may move the second public hearing on the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement to the Klamath County Courthouse or Klamath County Fairgrounds.

       Commissioners expect the 7 p.m. Feb. 11 meeting to be well attended, and the hearing room in the Klamath County Government Center would likely not accommodate everyone.

   Off-Project water users opposed to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement said they would not sign it unless financial support for a tribal land purchase was removed and other conditions met.
   The group presented their demands Monday at the Klamath County Board of Commissioners’ first public hearing on the issue.
   Stakeholders released the agreement Jan. 15 after two-and-a-half years of negotiations. If approved, it would allocate water in the Klamath River watershed between irrigators, tribes, fishermen and conservationists. It also calls for removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to restore historic fish runs.
   Return to table
   Off - Project water users, which includes two groups represented by Ed Bartell and Roger Nicholson, called for a return to the negotiation table, saying the current agreement is not equitable to all the parties involved.
   The settlement talks were to be conducted under consensus management, so that all involved could live with the final document, said Andrea Rabe, an off-Project water user. But, she said, that process was abandoned and now off-Project irrigators are in serious jeopardy.
   “I think to move forward we need to go back to consensus management,” she said.
   Rabe said the following five issues need to be addressed before off-Project irrigators opponents would sign:
   n Assurance that the state of Oregon, federal government, on-Project water users and Klamath Tribes would make no call on off-Project water use after completion of a voluntary water rights retirement equivalent of 30,000 acre-feet. Irrigated acreage retired since 2001 needs to be counted toward that water rights retirement.
   n Removal of agreement language that would alter Oregon water law to make transferring a claim to an “in-stream water right.”
   n Guarantee that a 3 cents per kilowatt-hour power rate would be achieved and equally accessible to all water users.
   n Removal of the Mazama Tree Farm purchase from the agreement, instead providing $21 million to the Klamath Tribes for economic development.
   n Guarantee that the Klamath On-Project Plan would not adversely affect groundwater users.
   Rabe also said several off- and on-Project water users have met to discuss how to move the agreement forward with benefits to all involved.
   “Everyone is important and everyone needs to have a say,” she said.
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