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Why not use water rights funds for storage instead?

Herald and News letter to editor by Jim McAtee, Klamath Falls 11/10/09

As I understand the situation, the Klamath Tribes have the oldest water rights claim in the Klamath Basin and have claimed much of the water in the Basin.  

   The state of Oregon has not yet processed their claim so the size of the Tribeís actual water rights is unknown.

   My question is: Why should we the taxpayers spend $32 million for some of the Tribesí water rights when at this time they do not have any water rights?

   To make the situation even more difficult, the federal government controls most of the water in the Upper Klamath   Lake via the Endangered Species Act.

   The lake level must not drop below a certain level for the protection of the Lost River sucker fish and the long nose sucker fish. So the water below this level (I canít remember the actual level) canít be used for any other purpose.

   To add to the difficulty, the federal government also controls several feet above this level that must be used to protect the threatened chinook salmon downstream.

   Why not actually solve this problem by using the $32 million as a down payment for sufficient off-stream water storage so there would be enough water for agriculture, the refuge, and the endangered and threatened species?

   Jim McAtee

   Klamath Falls

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