The proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement must die, a Portland attorney said Monday.
James Buchal, an attorney involved in litigation stemming from the 2001 water crisis, was one of several speakers Monday during a meeting hosted by Klamath Off-Project Water Users and the Klamath Basin Alliance at Reames County Club.
Those who spoke at the meeting blasted the agreement, saying it would destroy irrigated agriculture in the Klamath Basin. Speakers also blamed problems in the Klamath River watershed on groups not related to agriculture.
Blames government, liars
“What you have is a crisis caused by government and by liars,” Buchal said.
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 owned by PacifiCorp, a Portland-based power company.
Edward Bartell, president of Klamath Off-Project Water Users, said the document provides no assurances for water or affordable power rates, and said he was often overruled in settlement talks to the disadvantage of off-Project water users, only to be painted a radical when he began to oppose the agreement.
“We’ve always been willing to make a reasonable deal,” he said.
Costs fall to ratepayers
Toby Freeman, regional community manager for PacifiCorp, reminded the nearly 100 people in attendance that costs to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, stipulated in the agreement, would fall to them as ratepayers.
The agreement also does not g ua ra nt ee prot ec tions f rom unwanted environmental impacts caused by dam removal, he said, and dam removal would eliminate emissions-free power for 70,000 homes.
“We’ve always believed there’s a lower cost option that’s good for fish, that’s good for farmers, but no one’s talking about that,” Freeman said.
Roy Hall Jr. and Gary Lake, members of the Shasta Indian Nation in Northern California, also spoke against dam removal. About 100 miles of the Klamath River runs through their ancestral lands. They claim proponents of dam removal seek to restore a salmon fishery that never existed.
Critical of groups
Buchal, the keynote speaker, criticized several groups for issues facing the Basin, from fishermen and the Klamath Tribes to the federal government, fish managers and Californians. Irrigators have done nothing to contribute to the region’s problems but are being saddled with all the costs and blame to fix them.
“It’s like some evil genius plan,” he said.
He urged those in attendance to oppose the settlement by strongly voicing their opposition and telling local leaders they will seek their defeat come election time if they do not side with them.