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Klamath Tribes, farmers make water settlement

Emily Wood & Associated Press, May 21, 2009 KDRV

(KBC  NOTE: According to Klamath Tribe document , they intend to "assert tribe's senior water rights"
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- The Klamath Tribes and farmers have agreed to drop their state water rights battle, pending approval of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement leading to removal of dams on the Klamath River.
The settlement, filed Wednesday with the Oregon Department of Water Resources, mirrors key elements of the dam removal plan, under which the tribes agree not to use their senior water right to stop water for irrigation, and the farmers agree not to contest the tribes' claims. Klamath tribes have been fighting for senior water rights for close to 30 years.
Greg Addington of the Klamath Water Users Association says it made no sense to spend time and money fighting out their claims in the state process known as adjudication when they had reached a settlement that just hasn't gone into effect yet.
"It's an opportunity for us to essentially drop contest against the Klamath Tribes claims in the adjudication. And in return, they're agreeing not to exercise their senior water rights against the project irrigators," says Addington.
Water users and Klamath tribes say that while this agreement is similar to the KBRA, it prevents both groups from going through the adjudication process over water rights. Both groups say it will save money on court costs, documents, and lawyer fees.
The settlement is conditional on the KBRA going into effect. If the KBRA does not go through, the tribes and farmers can resume their claims in the state water rights adjudication process.
Meanwhile, Klamath Off-Project Water Users Association Representative Tom Mallams says the deal is just a public relations stunt to get more support for the KBRA.
The KOPWUA argues that the KBRA doesn't protect farmers' water rights or power arrangements, and favors tribal interests.

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