Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Counties weigh costs and benefits
Those who signed KBRA still involved
by Joel Aschbrenner, Herald and News 10/13/10
The issue: Should county governments participate in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement?
Why voters should care: Klamath County has signed the agreement and continues to participate in its coordinating committees, but county officials have said they will likely withdraw from the agreement if voters tell them to. Voters are being asked to decide Nov. 2 by voting on Measure 18-80, an advisory measure.
What opponents say: By signing the KBRA, Klamath County forfeited its right to oppose major provisions in the agreement. County residents should have had the opportunity to vote on the KBRA before the county signed the agreement.
What proponents say: Many of the KBRA’s details and its implementation, which will affect county residents, still need to be determined by the agreement’s coordinating committees. To be able to participate in and vote on those committees, county officials had to sign the agreement.
To have a say in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and its implementation, counties had to commit to supporting the overall agreement.
Two of the four counties involved, including Klamath County, signed the KBRA and continue to participate in meetings that will shape the final agreement.
The other two counties opposed the agreement and, by not signing it, relinquished their right to participate in KBRA discussions.
The KBRA aims to resolve water disputes in the Klamath River watershed and advocates removal of four dams on the river. Klamath County voters will vote Nov. 2 on Measure 18-80, which asks whether the county should remove itself from discussions.
Humboldt county also signed the agreement, and can vote on KBRA coordinating committees, which continue to flesh out the agreement’s details.
Siskiyou County supervisors did not sign the agreement , but have continued to attend KBRA meetings as non-voting mem bers of the public. Del Norte County, where the Klamath River empties into the Pacific Ocean, has not been involved in the crafting of the agreement.
Klamath County officials say it is important to stay involved so they can have a say in issues that will affect their constituents.
“The settlement agreement sets out some pretty broad ideas,” said Dave Groff, Klamath County counsel, who has attended the KBRA’s past three Klamath Basin Coordinating Committee meetings. “There are a lot of details in the broad parameters that have not been worked out.”
But local KBRA opponents argue that the county already surrendered to the KBRA’s major provisions by signing the agreement.
“They lost all their political clout by signing on,” said Frank Goodson, a leader of the Klamath Conservative Voters Political Action Committee, which has campaigned against the agreement.
Goodson added he thinks the county residents should have had an opportunity to vote on the KBRA before county officials signed it.
Humboldt County Supervisor Mark Lovelace said there are advantages for and against signing the agreement. When his county signed the KBRA it forfeited its right to oppose the overall agreement, but by signing gained the ability to vote on issues and shape the final agreement, he said.
Del Norte County Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen said his county was cut out of KBRA discussions altogether.
“We weren’t invited to the meetings,” he said. “We were never involved from start to finish.”
Page Updated: Thursday October 14, 2010 01:52 AM Pacific
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