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State to respond to adjudication request
By Ty Beaver, Herald and News 9/3/09
An adviser to Gov. Ted Kulongoski said the state is confident that it can participate in the Klamath Basin adjudication process and water settlement discussions without violating state laws.
Some irrigators off the Klamath Reclamation Project filed papers with the adjudication judge in August asserting that it is illegal for the state to be involved in the settlement and adjudication. They also said a settlement between the Klamath Tribes and Project water users violates their right to challenge the agreement and want it thrown out.
Mike Carrier, Kulongoski’s natural resources adviser, said attorneys for the state are filing a counter motion.
Water adjudication is the process established by the state about a century ago 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 of water from the lake and river. That settlement was made in conjunction with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.
Some off-Project water users, especially those represented by the Resource Conservancy, criticize the restoration agreement for not involving all who are affected. Because they weren’t involved in settlement meetings, an opportunity for them to challenge the settlement between the Tribes and Project water users was never provided and leads to a foregone conclusion in the adjudication, they assert.
Carrier said that assertion is not true and that all unsettled claims will still have to go through the adjudication process and won’t be pre-empted by any other settlement.
“We always encourage parties who have competing claims to settle those claims instead of adjudicating them, but settlement only occurs between willing parties,” he said.
About the agreement, dam removal
The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement was developed in closed meetings over several years to address water issues in the Klamath Basin. It calls for removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to restore fish passage. It also would help the Klamath Tribes acquire the Mazama Tree Farm and promote a stable water supply for irrigators.
Stakeholders who helped negotiate the agreement are largely in support of the document. Many irrigators off the Klamath Reclamation Project are opposed. Other residents have varying opinions on the restoration agreement..
Negotiators now are crafting a final dam removal agreement after reaching a tentative one in November 2008. A final agreement is now expected this month.
Page Updated: Sunday September 06, 2009 03:01 AM Pacific
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