Water settlement perspectives
Herald and News 1/24/08
Local, state and federal officials would need to support the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement for it to be implemented. Several officials offered their perspectives on the document and the role of government plays.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski
The state supports the current draft of the agreement and looks forward to moving ahead with implementation. However, getting it through Congress during the current session is highly unlikely, officials said.
Mike Carrier, Kulongoskiís natural resources policy director, said the governorís office is re-evaluating the timeline necessary for the agreement.
Requirements of due diligence to receive public comment and input, along with the federal governmentís budget schedule, makes the 2 010 budget the most l i kely possibility.
ďRealistically, thereís no way to get this into the presidentís budget in the next week,Ē Carrier said.
Itís also unlikely that the state would suspend the Klamath Basinís water adjudication process beyond April 4 because of the potential to lose allocated funds and credibility with the Legislature, Carrier said.
Klamath County Commissioner John Elliott
Elliott said many county residents are carefully considering the agreement, but additional time may be needed so the Klamath County Board of Commissioners can receive public comment, which will influence its decision to sign the agreement.
ďUltimately, the counties have to play a pretty pivotal role as a sounding board,Ē he said.
State Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls
Whitsett said he has the utmost respect for those who participated in the settlement talks, but he believes much still needs to be done to the agreement before it will be equitable for all involved.
Private water lawyers informed him of their misgivings, and the senator spoke with Phil Ward, director of the state water resources department. The departmentís legal staff is looking into the concerns.
Whitsett said his two primary concerns are how the transfer of water rights within the agreement could harm other water rights and how some water rights would be improperly subordinated.
He also suggested more time be set aside to allow review and comment on the agreement.
Unavailable: State Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, U.S. Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., did not return phone calls Wednesday afternoon.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also could not be reached.