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No board decision yet on Siskiyou water users’ $40,000 request
Yreka, Calif. — Siskiyou County Water Users Association (SCWUA) President Frank Tallerico told the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday that his group wants the board to be leaders in the effort to keep dams and their associated powerhouses in place on the Klamath River.
Two agreements – the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement – lay out the possible removal of four dams along the Klamath River and have been signed by a number of agencies and groups, which are the target of a suit from the SCWUA that argues that the groups had violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in signing the agreements.
The SCWUA suit, filed in the Superior Court of the County of Sacramento, requests that the court declare that the parties violated CEQA when signing the agreements by not undertaking a full environmental review first. The suit also requests that the court issue a permanent injunction barring the parties from further action and issue a declaration that the state’s Department of Water Resources is the proper agency to act as the CEQA lead without legislation authorizing the DFG to act in that respect.
A number of individuals, many with the SCWUA, came forward Tuesday to urge the board to donate funds to the litigation effort in the amount of $40,000, stating that they believe the goals of the suit are in line with the supervisors’ vote to not sign the agreements and Siskiyou voters’ 78 percent disapproval of dam removal on November’s ballot measure G.
County Counsel Thomas Guarino, however, advised the board that the suit may not fit into the county’s overall litigation strategy with respect to the Klamath agreements and county finances.
Guarino said that he feels that if the suit is successful, it will have limited results for effectively stopping dam removal, instead delaying the process until the environmental review, already underway, can be completed.
According to Guarino, the county is also engaged with the Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) over its attempt to have the courts validate its execution of the two agreements, stating that the county is currently working on a solution with the TID that, if achieved, would run counter to the results sought by SCWUA.
Ultimately, however, Guarino told the board that it is their decision whether or not to appropriate the money, which would be added to his estimate of approximately $800,000 in costs incurred by the county in the various Klamath fights in which it is already engaged.
Framing the discussion, District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong noted that her dilemma is that constituents are requesting that she take an action she is not sure will achieve county goals.
With the discussion coming to a close, Board Chair Jim Cook stated that he wants Guarino to discuss with the SCWUA’s lawyers how the $40,000, if appropriated, would be spent so that the board can determine whether or not the suit will fit into its Klamath strategy.
Taken to a vote, the board approved that course of action four to one, with District 3 Supervisor Ed Valenzuela voting no.
– David Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Page Updated: Sunday January 23, 2011 03:56 AM Pacific
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