unveils irrigator legislation
by Holly Dillemuth 11/12/17, Herald and News
audience of Klamath Basin irrigators and residents, U.S.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., unveiled the Klamath
Infrastructure Improvement Act — House Resolution 4239 —
water legislation aimed at bringing down the costs of power
for local irrigators to prices seen in similar Bureau of
the expiration of two separate power agreements in 2006,
many irrigators in the Klamath Basin have experienced
extremely high power rates, which the legislation aims to
alleviate. Walden officially introduced the act in the House
of Representatives on Thursday.
don't have to tell anybody in this room about the incredible
importance of agriculture in the Klamath Basin,” Walden
have 1,000 farms in Klamath County … We have 650,000 acres
of farmland in the county. Combined crop and livestock sales
annually reach approximately $200 million. Agriculture is
essential to the lifeblood of Klamath County, but frankly,
our entire congressional district.”
bill directs the U.S. Department of the Interior to conduct
a study to identify "concrete" steps to take the bring the
costs down, and requires a plan to lower the rates to be
implemented within 180 days of the study's completion. A
start date for the study was not available as of press time.
also emphasized it was “especially fitting” that the
legislation rolled out the week of the observance of
“Originally, many of today's Klamath farms were first
homesteaded by those who fought for freedom in far off lands
in World War I,” Walden said.
bill, about eight months in the making, also contains the
following provisions to help lower power costs for
Alleviates full responsibility for the costs of pumping
water at the Tulelake Irrigation District (TID). TID
could then enter into an agreement with the Bureau of
- Designates the
reconstruction of the C flume Emergency and
Extraordinary Operation and Maintenance (EEOM);
- Authorizes federal
reimbursement for some D Plant pumping costs when in the
federal interest, such as providing water to wildlife
- Eliminates the need
for federal contracts or permits for conveyance of
non-Klamath Project water such as groundwater.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., is a co-sponsor of the
working on this together,” Walden said.
Walden draws local support
Klamath Infrastructure Improvement Act drew support,
applause, and emotion from some, including Klamath County
Commssioner Donnie Boyd. Boyd spoke on behalf of the
personally worked with Greg since 2001, fighting the local
water challenges … and it's emotional to me, as you can
see,” Boyd said, his voice breaking as he read from a
bill will help address the rising costs of power for our
local producers, provide tools to manage water as
efficiently as possible, and to provide important
infrastructure improvements that are needed to continue the
tradition of agriculture in the region."
White, executive director of the Klamath Water Users
Association, who worked with Walden on the legislation,
spoke about a recent tour of irrigated land he gave which
shows a propensity for local irrigators to flood irrigate
instead of using the efficiency of a pivot, in order to save
on power costs.
many cases, a lot of people are going to flood irrigating
because of the cost of power," White said. "Affordable power
helps on farms and also the efficiency of the project as
Kirby, manager of TID, expressed his and the district's
support for the legislation especially for the provision
addressing the D Plant cost.
than reliable water supply, addressing the power cost issue
is of the utmost importance, especially for TID,” Kirby said
in a letter addressed to Walden. “Our vast network vertical
lift pumping plants allows us to move, conserve, and reuse
water with unparalleled effectiveness and efficiency among
similar types of irrigation systems.”
also received letters of support from Klamath Irrigation
District board of directors, Klamath County Economic
Development Association (KCEDA), Klamath Drainage District,
Oregon Water Resources Congress, Klamath County Chamber of
Commerce, Shasta View Irrigation District, Malin Irrigation
District, Enman Farms, and G bar V Wright Ranch.
house resolution is similar to Senate Bill 1460 passed by
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley,
D-Ore., as part of a broad energy and natural resources bill
pending in the U.S. Senate.
J. Johnson, California director of Trout Unlimited,
responded to the legislation in support as well as hope for
even more work to be done.
Johnson called the legislation an “important step” but said
there is much more to do to achieve lasting and equitable
solutions, such as greater water certainty for fish,
irrigators, and refuges, the return of land to the Klamath
Tribes, and new economic development for the basin's
event was the second of the morning for Walden, who led a
town hall at Lost River Junior/Senior High School at 8 a.m.
for more than 100 people in attendance.
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