Tribes to vote on water plan; Signatures to wait until PacifiCorp agrees to dam removal
The General Council of the Klamath Tribes will vote Saturday morning whether to support or oppose the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.
But even with a vote of support, the Tribes won’t uncap their pens quite yet.
Several groups involved in crafting the historical agreement, from tribes to state governments, have already indicated they would sign the agreement.
But they won’t actually sign until Portland-based PacifiCorp agrees to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, considered a critical aspect of the deal. The restoration agreement allocates water among fisheries, tribes, irrigators and conservationists in the Klamath River Basin.
“Everyone is waiting with bated breath,” said Craig Tucker of the Karuk Tribe.
Stakeholders released the 256-page agreement Jan. 15. The agreement will cost an estimated $1 billion over 10 years to implement.
Proponents warned against picking the agreement apart, but they say removal of the PacifiCorp dams is crucial for it to move ahead.
The power company is still meeting with delegates who crafted the agreement.
Toby Freeman, regional community manager for PacifiCorp, has repeatedly stated the company must consider economics of dam removal versus installation of fish ladders on the dams. Fish ladders would cost about $300 million.
“I don’t think anyone should be trying to rush it,” he said.
Some groups have yet to reach a decision about the agreement. Governments in Klamath, Siskiyou and Humboldt counties must follow public hearing and notice laws before they can make a decisions.
Conservationists and fishermen need to weigh in and California Department of Fish and Game is still performing reviews of the document.
“We’re very optimistic about it,” said Greg Hurner, a senior staff member with fish and game.
The Karuk and the Klamath tribes have said their endorsements would be contingent upon dam removal.
Greg Addington, executive director of Klamath Water Users Association, said some irrigation districts would need to call special meetings to address the agreement.
Stakeholders are meeting in Sacramento Thursday, and Addington said one of the agenda items would be to define a timetable.
“Like I’ve said before, we don’t want to shove this down anybody’s throats,” Addington said.