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Eric Duarte, Mike Ielmorini and Kevin Newman protest the Klamath water settlement in front of the Klamath County Government Center in Klamath Falls Thursday afternoon.
Protesters object to proposed water settlement, Herald and News, 1/18/08. About 50 people attended a rally in front of the Klamath County Government Center Thursday to protest to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.
            The majority of those protesting said they were irrigators not associated with the Klamath Project.
            “We’ve spread the word on how bad this is,” said Edward Bartell, president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users.
              The protest took place before a meeting of the Klamath County
Natural Resources Advisory Council, which was expected to receive testimony from several parties about the agreement. .

             Protesters said they opposed the settlement because it would force them to give up 30,000 acre-feet of irrigation water and give 90,000 acres of private forestland to the Klamath Tribes.
   “It just takes us and sweeps us under the table,” said Erika Bentsen, an off-project irrigator from Sprague River.

Klamath water settlement Debate heats up Officials: Deal’s fate rests with PacifiCorp
Company says dam removal is not a sure thing
By TY BEAVER H&N Staff Writer


   Dam removal along the Klamath River is a familiar issue for PacifiCorp.
   For years, various groups, from state and federal agencies to tribes and environmentalists have advocated removal of four dams — J.C. Boyle, Copco 1, Copco 2 and Iron Gate — citing environmental, fishery and other concerns.
   Now the Portland-based power company is being asked again, and a group of river stakeholders say its answer will determine the fate of a new water settlement, the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. The deal allocates water for irrigation, fish and wildlife refuges and calls for the removal of the four dams to restore historic salmon runs.
   Without dam removal, the agreement falls apart, stakeholders say.
   PacifiCorp officials say it is premature to think the power company is near a decision. Negotiations are ongoing and the company must carefully consider what is best for its customers.
   “Whether these folks can address these concerns we’ve raised, I don’t yet know,” said Toby Freeman, Klamath Falls regional community director for the Portland-based power company.
             Water agreement stakeholders say dam removal was always a possibility, and PacifiCorp shouldn’t be surprised it is in the settlement.
   “Never has the Basin been so unified around the removal of the four dams,” Glenn Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations said Tuesday.
   Not a done deal
   PacifiCorp spokesman Paul Vogel of Portland said dam removal is definitely not a done deal, especially when the company wasn’t at the table during the process.
   “It’s good they could get on the same page, but it’s easy to do that when you’re not making the hard choices,” he said.
   Greg Addington, executive director of Klamath Water Users Association, and Steve Kandra, a board member and Merrill farmer, said PacifiCorp chose not to be part of the settlement talks, giving stakeholders time to work out differences before it moved forward with the dam relicensing process. The company may not have been at the table, but people who were continued to meet with power officials to provide details about the discussion, they said.
   “It is no surprise to PacifiCorp what we are bringing to them,” Kandra said.
   Freeman said the company isn’t surprised, more perplexed that people are so eager to move ahead without PacifiCorp’s input.
   The company, he said, is still weighing the costs of dam removal, costs that aren’t well defined and would be passed on to its customers.
   PacifiCorp is in a relicensing process for the dams with the Federal Energy Regulation Commission. The former 50-year license expired in 2007, and the dams are operating under yearly e x t e n s i o n s until relicensing is complete.
   T h e f o u r d a m s p r o - d u c e a b o u t 750,000-megawatt hours of ele c t r ic it y a year, enough to provide 70,000 customers power. They also are a renewable energy source and create no emissions.
   Energy demands
   But energy demands are increasing, especially for renewable energy. Every state the company operates in has laws requiring a portion of the energ y prov ided come from renewable sources. Twenty-five percent of the energy used in Oregon must come from renewable sources by 2025. To ask PacifiCorp to remove those energy sources and still meet those other demands seems a contradiction, Freeman said.
   The company will have to spend some money to be relicensed. FERC has said that without dam remova l, f ish ladders and other improvements would be needed to mitigate the dams’ effects on the watershed. Those improvements could cost up to $300 million.
   Exact cost unknown
   But no one knows exactly how much dam removal will cost, Freeman said. He’s seen figures as high as $180 million but without a thorough study, no one is sure.
   Consequential costs are another factor, he added. There could be environmental problems with dam removal, adding to the price tag.
   This doesn’t mean that dam removal is out of the question, Freeman and Vogel said.
   It does mean it could take longer to reach a solution with PacifiCorp than the several weeks estimated by stakeholders.
   “Under the right circumstances, we’d go to dam removal. This agreement doesn’t necessarily get us to those circumstances,” Vogel said.
   Pacif iCorp is a unit of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., which is controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Stakeholders field questions about pact

By TY BEAVER H&N Staff Writer

   Those involved in dra f ting the K la math Basin Restoration Agreement — a settlement that allocates water along the Klamath River Basin — are fielding questions about the 256-page document as stakeholders ask for support from their groups.
   The Hatfield Upper Klamath Basin Working Group and Klamath County Natural R esou rces Adv isor y Council met Wednesd ay a nd T hu r sd ay, respectively.

Klamath Water Users Association executive director Greg Addington speaks at a Klamath County Natural Resources Advisory Council meeting Thursday. '
Members heard presentations about the deal and asked questions.
   Opponents and proponents provided testimony. Edward Bartell, president of the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, spoke against the agreement Thursday evening, saying the entire document should be scrapped.
   “What this settlement has turned into is a backroom deal at our expense,” he said.
   The Klamath Tribes and Klamath Water Users Association, which represents water users on the Klamath Project, support the agreement, saying it will help solve the Basin’s problems and move its communities forward.
   “It took us two and a half years to build this thing and it looks like we’re trying to tear it down in 48 hours,” said Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. The agreement was released Tuesday.
   Steve Kandra, a Merrill farmer and board member of Klamath Water Users Association, made a presentation and fielded questions from the twodozen attendees of the Hatfield Upper Klamath Basin Working Group Wednesday night.
   Members agreed to wait until a later date before voting whether to endorse the agreement. At the meeting, some expressed concern about future and ongoing environmental regulation such as the Endangered Species Act and other possible liabilities.
   Kandra said he knows the agreement includes some level of risk and that every party had to give something. In the end, though, he said the agreement would put everyone in a better position for the future.
   “Nobody said it was going to be easy, but somebody tell me what my alternative is,” he said.
   County meeting
   The county meeting Thursday was more contentious. Bartell blasted the agreement, saying nothing that has been said about it, from guarantees of water supply and affordable power to protections from regulations such as the Endangered Species Act, are true.
   “The bottom line is nothing is changing,” he said.
   Bartell also said he was distressed that the 90,000-acre land purchase specified for the Tribes was not conducted openly, and added that the agreement does not protect from the Tribes’ claim of water rights immemorial.
   Representatives of the Tribes and on-Project irrigators disputed Bartell’s assessment, saying the tribes have agreed to allow specific amounts of water into Project diversions.
   Addington said the threecent per kilowatt-hour power rate cited in the agreement is more a goal than a set number, but it is possible.
   He and others also said that while it’s not possible to do away with the Endangered Species Act, stakeholders did the best they could to protect against future problems with the federal law.
   Jeff Mitchell, tribal councilman, said the Klamath Tribal Council considered the land deal conducted in good faith because it concerns purchase of private, not public, land.
   Tribal attorney Bud Ullman criticized Bartell’s statement that the Tribes would have sole claim to the waters of Klamath County, saying the other parties involved in the settlement wouldn’t allow it.
   “That proposition is laughable,” he said.
   Glenn Barrett of the Natural Resources Advisory Council asked those involved in the settlement if changes to the agreement were possible, should the council make a recommendation the Klamath County Board of Commissioners.
   Several individuals said the time crunch of getting support for the document before sending it to state governments and eventually Congress would limit revisions.
   “I wouldn’t rule it out, but we have a lot of constraints,” said Phil Dietrich of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.



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