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Klamath should be adjudicated

Capital Press Letter February 12, 2010 by Tom Mallams, Beatty, OR

The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement began as a noble cause but was sidetracked by special-interest groups that claim the title of stakeholder. The KBRA and dam removal agreement is a carbon copy of the health care boondoggle, a huge complicated document, contrived behind closed doors, being pushed forward at an alarming rate and with most individuals unclear of the ramifications involved. The KBRA is weighed down with so many "earmarks" that it is destined to fail, if it is implemented.

One of the many problems is how out of balance both documents are. Many of the concessions are implemented first and are permanent, while any hope of benefits comes later. Dam removal, a 90,000-acre land gift, advocated additional instream rights granted with senior priority dates, 30,000 acres of irrigated land dried up in the upper basin, with a minimum of 18,000 acres to start.

If you want to participate in the documents' programs, you must give up your water rights contests, agree not to file exceptions and agree to not sue in district court on water rights. All these concessions are permanent. The KBRA is at best a 50-year contract, and as any lawyer will tell you, "any contract can be broken."

So what happens if this monstrosity is implemented and the contract is indeed broken after 10 years? Obviously, what is left of this generation and all generations that follow are stuck with all the concessions! There is no undo button to put back into place what was given up, and there are no hoped for benefits left in a broken contract. ....

We should ... complete the Oregon State Water Right Adjudication process that has worked for 100 years. ... Then convene a true stakeholder group to go forward with solving the remaining Klamath Basin issues.

Tom Mallams

Beatty, Ore.

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