Water meetings delayed
Representatives from the states of Oregon and California, the federal Department of the Interior, and Pacific Power have been meeting to discuss removal of the dams, a necessary step for implementation of the agreement. Meetings with stakeholders were tentatively planned for Monday and Tuesday.
Greg Addington of the K lamath Water Users, who had been scheduled to attend the meeting, said the delay was not unexpected.
“I think it’s clear they are still talking, which is good for everybody,” he said. “Certainly it’s no secret the fate of those four dams are part of the discussion, but it’s bigger than that,” Addington said, referring to issues involving fish and liability concerns. “These are humongous issues of big-time complexity.”
Addington said the full settlement group — a mix of irrigators, Indian tribes, commercial fishermen, government agency officials a nd env iron menta lists — has not met since early this year.
The group released its proposed restoration agreement Jan. 15 after 2-1/2 years of talks. If implemented, it would allocate water along the Klamath River Basin among fishing interests, conservationists, irrigators and the tribes. It also advocates removal of four hydroelectric dams and charts the future of fish habitat, river restoration, power rates and other water-related issues.
“The parties … have not made sufficient progress to allow for a productive discussion with the Klamath Settlement group, wrote Ed Sheets, who was contracted by the Department of the Interior to facilitate the talks, in an e-mailed statement.
Citing a confidentialit y a g reement , Sheets declined to elaborate Friday, saying only, “Discussions are continuing.”
J i l l i a n S c h o e n e , a spokeswoman for the state of Oregon, called the delay “part of the process … Once we do reach our goal of coming to a resolution for a preliminary agreement we will be briefing the stakeholders. All parties are committed to this process and they are closer than ever to a resolution.”
Toby Freeman, a spokesman for Pacific Power, said the delays don’t stem from issues involving the power company.
“There obviously are outstanding issues, but we feel we’re close on the issues that involve Pacific Power,” Freeman said. “The governments need to work out a significant gap among themselves. We remain at the table and committed to a resolution that is best for the entire community and our customers.”