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A positive step for Klamath

A positive step for Klamath

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Recently, The Oregonian reported on the Government Accountability Office analysis of the Klamath Basin Pilot Water Bank ("Report faults costs of Klamath water bank," March 31).

The Klamath water bank is a successful program that was first proposed by the Bureau of Reclamation to help meet the many competing demands for water in the Klamath Basin. In contrast to the hardships felt in 2001 when the irrigation supplies were cut off, the water bank strikes a reasonable balance now, with the very real prospect of helping to resolve the Klamath situation in the long term, and has great value to the many communities up and down the Basin.

What matters most is the shared commitment of President Bush, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to address the long-term health of the Klamath Basin.

The Bush administration signed an agreement with the two states last October that sets a framework for cooperative efforts that preserve the livelihoods and cultures of the region. The agreement follows earlier steps taken by the president, including constructing a fish screen to protect endangered fish, plans to remove the antiquated Chiloquin Dam so that rivers and streams will be reopened to migrating endangered suckers, and additional funding under the farm bill for water-saving measures and habitat restoration.

The water bank is just one of many positive steps we have taken in the Klamath Basin.

JOHN W. KEYS III Commissioner Bureau of Reclamation U.S. Department of the Interior Washington, D.C.






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