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'New' groups join Klamath talks?

by Tom Mallams, President, Klamath Off-Project Water Users Association, Beatty, Ore.

Once again the corrupt process overpowers logic, common sense and equitable participation. A small non-representative group being added to the Klamath Settlement Group is another example of how corrupt the dam removal and Klamath Basin Restoration Group process continues to be.

Upper Klamath Water Users Association was added in the so-called consensus-driven meeting even with the opposition of at least three of the groups. Their addition to the main group is just another "rubber stamp" of the federal government, tribal and environmentalist-driven group.

I guess consensus doesn't always mean consensus in this flawed process. It is like being sort of pregnant - you are or you are not. You can't have it both ways.

We have been promised that this process would always be a consensus-driven group. At the same time "another" formal request was made to add one or two truly representative irrigation groups in the upper basin. The Sprague River Water Users and/or Resource Conservancy, which represents a very substantial group of irrigators comprising approximately 125,000 irrigated acres. This request was turned down again and instead the small group representing approximately 2,000 irrigated acres was added to the group.

The obvious intention is to exclude any group that is not in complete agreement, to force the public, without due process, into dam removal, a tribal land gift and the so-called "promise" of water guarantee for the Klamath Project, under the guise of "saving the river."

There is still no credible science that states dam removal will even help the river or support fish survival if the dams are removed. There is equal logic that concludes that dam removal would actually worsen conditions with no sustained late-season flows. Actual dam removal costs are shown by two federal government studies to be in the billions of dollars. Fish ladders and structure upgrades certainly seem to be the best option at a cost estimated to be approximately $350 million.

We are still committed to a basin-wide settlement, but it has to be equitable and it is not even close to that as it is written today. This is evidenced by more participants in the Klamath Settlement Group formally dropping out of further talks, because of similar concerns we have been raising.

Our numerous attempts to introduce beneficial amendments in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement to address Off-Project Water Users' concerns is being portrayed as a roadblock by some. We are still trying to work with the settlement process, in spite of continually being excluded and ignored in our requests for changes in the agreement.

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