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Irrigators: KBRA violates our rights

 Judge asked to toss agreement
 by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 8/21/09 
     Irrigators off the Klamath Reclamation Project say a water agreement between the Klamath Tribes and on-Project irrigators violates their right to challenge the arrangement.

   Those irrigators, represented primarily by the Resource Conservancy, are asking the administrative law judge overseeing the Klamath Basin water adjudication process to throw out the agreement, which settles water claims from Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River.

   “They’ve circumvented the process of adjudication,” said Garrett Roseberry, president of the Sprague River Water Users.  

   The request also calls for the state to stop participating in discussions on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, saying its involvement violates state law. The restoration agreement seeks to resolve water disputes in the Klamath River watershed. Greg Addington, executive director for Klamath Water Users Association, said the legal action is without merit.

   “From my perspective a whole bunch of good people in the Project and in the Upper Klamath Basin will be throwing more good money at this random act of litigation, which is nothing more than means of attacking creative solutions to complex problems,” he said in a   statement.

   Water adjudication, established by the state about a century ago, is a process to determine and quantify vested water rights or water rights that existed before the state’s water laws. The Tribes and on-Project irrigators reached an agreement months ago to settle their contested claims. That settlement was made in conjunction with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

   According to filed legal documents, off-Project water users said the Tribes haven’t shown evidence they are entitled to any of the water in the lake or river, as specified by an adjudication judge.

   The document also claims the settlement leads the adjudication to a specific outcome, preventing outsiders from challenging it.

   Request to join denied

   The Resource Conservancy requested on several occasions to join the groups working on the restoration agreement, but its requests were denied.

   Another off-Project   group, the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, has participated in talks, but says it can only negotiate on issues related to power, not water.

   Addington said members of the Resource Conservancy participated in restoration agreement discussions with the Klamath Off-Project Water Users group, and he believes the settlement between the on-Project irrigators and the Tribes does not take away a third party’s right to due process.

   Mike Carrier, Kulongoski’s natural resources policy adviser, said despite the legal action, the state would stand behind the restoration agreement and the settlement between the Tribes and on-Project irrigators.

   It’s unclear where the adjudication process goes from here. An attorney   in the state Attorney General’s Off ice said it was too early in the process to say how the off-Project irrigators’ motion would impact the   adjudication process.

   A representative with the Tribes said he had not reviewed the legal documents and could not comment on them
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