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Jackson Co. investigates whether KBRA could affect Rogue Valley water supply


 MEDFORD, Ore. - A group of Rogue Valley irrigators and Klamath Basin water users are warning Jackson County commissioners to keep a close eye on how the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement could affect Rogue Valley water supplies.
The KBRA, which outlines the removal of four Klamath River dams, could be signed as soon as next month. 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.
Beatty Rancher Tom Mallams, President of the Klamath Basin Off Project Water Users Association, is concerned that if KBRA takes effect, it could threaten water supplies for the valley. Speaking before Jackson County commissioners Wednesday morning, Mallams warned the board that water diverted to Jackson County from Four Mile Lake, and possibly Hyatt and Howard Prairie lakes, could be in jeopardy.
"Our belief and our attorneys believe... that the diversions that come into the Rogue Valley from the east side are very definitely at risk here," said Tom Mallams, President of the Off-Project Water Users Association.
State Watermaster Larry Mintear declined to comment on the allegations, but says he'll review the issues with the board next week.
Up to this point, county commissioners have not said a lot about the KBRA and the water negotiations taking place in the Klamath Basin. Commissioners have scheduled a workshop session at 9 a.m. next Tuesday to get more information from the Jackson County Watermaster and others about how the KBRA could potentially affect the county.
In a statement the Klamath Water Users Association said they "support long term water supply security for the Rogue Valley irrigators".
A statement from Karuk Tribal Spokesman Craig Tucker said the agreement does not change or affect water districts in any way.
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.

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              Page Updated: Friday January 22, 2010 02:02 AM  Pacific

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