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Water meetings: Mum’s the word
Stakeholders must sign confidentiality, protocol agreements

by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 12/13/08

   Stakeholders who want to participate in talks about Klamath River dam removal will have to sign confidentiality and protocol agreements to attend future meetings on the issue. 

   Some of Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement stakeholders met with state and federal officials Wednesday and Thursday in Sacramento. The tentative agreement with Portland-based utility PacifiCorp to remove four dams was the main topic of discussion. 

   Attendees said the meeting discussed the process of dam removal and how stakeholders could be involved, separate from the broader restoration agreement. They confirmed that only those willing to sign specific agreements would be able to participate. 

   “If you don’t sign on, you can’t continue to participate,” said Tom Mallams, an irrigator off the Klamath Reclamation Project. “They’re not going to discuss options.” 

   Stakeholders from groups representing irrigation, fishing, tribal and governmental interests met regularly for years in closed meetings to develop the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement to address water issues in the Basin. 

   The agreement allocates water among stakeholders and calls for removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Government officials and representatives of PacifiCorp signed a tentative agreement in November to move toward dam removal. 

   Next steps 

   Greg Addington, executive director of Klamath Water Users Association, said the meeting focused on how stakeholders would interact with the dam removal agreement, such as working with government officials and developing the process and procedures. 

   Meeting in January 

   Stakeholders are expected to meet again in early January and they must sign confidentiality agreements to attend, Addington said. Attendees declined to comment on who has said they would or wouldn’t sign the confidentiality agreements. 

   Mallams, a representative of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, said he hasn’t signed on yet, but he may. He noted that not signing would not preclude people from continuing work on the settlement agreement. 

   He continued to criticize the lack of provisions for off-Project water users and the overall secretive process of the settlement talks. 

   “It’s just absolutely ridiculous how they’re doing this,” he said. 

   A call to Klamath tribal council member Jeff Mitchell seeking comment was not returned. Attempts to reach PacifiCorp officials were unsuccessful.
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