MEDFORD, Ore. - Water rights for Rogue Valley irrigators are "not in jeopardy" from a proposed deal to settle water disputes along the Klamath River.
Officials with the Jackson County Watermaster's Office and Talent Irrigation District told county commissioners Tuesday that the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement will not affect the county's water supply. TID Manager Jim Pendleton says there is nothing in the agreement that affects Jackson County's diversion system. He says the county's water rights are firm and will not be affected by the agreement. The Medford Irrigation District and the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District also agree with this assessment.
"At this point, we don't see anything in the document that would cause us to oppose it or support it, so we pretty much think this is a Klamath Basin issue," Pendleton said.
The KBRA, which could be signed as early as next month, would lead to the decommissioning of four dams along the Klamath River and proposes guaranteed water for farmers and irrigators in the Klamath Basin. Enough groups, including government representatives, Indian tribes, fishermen, and conservation groups must approve the final document before that happens. Portland-based utility PacifiCorp, which owns the dams, has already agreed to terms for their removal.
Actual removal of the dams would not start until 2020. In addition to the parties signing the KBRA, the removal of the dams is contingent on a water bond that is now before California voters.
Jackson County commissioners have yet to officially thrown their full support behind the KBRA.