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Water settlement process is flawed

by Tom Mallams, April 22, 2009 Herald and News Commentary. Mallams if President, Klamath Off-Project Water Users Association

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 Agreement 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. Its 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 we made “another” formal request 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.

Turned down

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.”

No credible science

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 current federal government studies to be in the billions of dollars. The Department of Interior and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission both completed these studies.

Fish ladders and structure upgrades certainly seem to be the best option at a cost estimated to be approximately $350 million. I see that an additional $4 million of our tax dollars has been allocated for another feasibility study on dam removal costs.

The question needs to be asked, “How many Federal Government funded studies does it take to determine the actual cost of dam removal?” The rhetorical answer is “As many as it takes to come up with a number that favors dam removal.”

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.

Dropping out

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 are 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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