Seven years into an agriculture water
quality plan for the Klamath Basin’s Lost
River drainage, ranchers Bill Kennedy,
left, and Glenn Barrett. Last week the
co-chairmen of the Lost River local
advisory commission asked for additional
time to negotiate rules acceptable to
farmers distrustful of the government.
MEDFORD, Ore. — Agricultural water quality
plans for Oregon came full circle last week,
back to Medford where in 1996 the Oregon Board
of Agriculture approved its first
pollution-limiting plan under a 1993 law
called Senate Bill 1010.
When the ag board returned to Medford it
wasn’t a pretty picture of cooperation with
landowners. The state is in the final stretch
of adopting the final four regional water
plans, and the ag board indicated it will
override local wishes to make a court-ordered
Rancher Tom Mallams, chairman of the Klamath
headwaters local advisory committee, told the
board his committee “didn’t feel very
comfortable with what came back from the
Oregon Department of Agriculture.”
The ag board ordered the plan adopted anyway.
It also turned aside two requests for more
negotiations between local advisory committees
on the Lost River, also part of the Klamath
Basin, and Curry County areas west of the
Coast Range Mountains.
“It appears we are just going ahead with
them,” ODA spokesman Bruce Pokarney said after
the March 4 meeting adjourned.
The other outstanding ag water quality plans,
covering the Lower John Day and Crooked River
basins, are in their final stages of public
comment and should be ready for ag board
consideration in June.
In the controversy-ripe Klamath Basin, where
in 2001 the federal government cut off
irrigation water to 1,100 farms in its Klamath
Reclamation Project, distrust of government
continues. For 1010 plans it focuses on ODA
insistence that reference to Oregon Revised
Statutes 468B be included in rules.
“We are asked to trust a state agency that
they would do right by us,” said Mallams.
Technically, he said it appears that the state
could construe leaves falling from a willow
planted as part of streamside restoration as
pollution because the source is the result of
a landowner’s action.
“We take the stance that 468B is dictated by
the other department (of Environmental
Quality) ... We pledge to help you if you see
problems,” said Ken Bailey of The Dalles, an
ag board member. Bailey was chairman of his
local advisory committee.
The Lost River advisory committee co-chairmen
Bill Kennedy and Glenn Barrett told the ag
board they felt so strongly about the 468B
issue they hired a private attorney. After
legal advice, they concluded the state doesn’t
have enforcement authority unless it cites “an
antiquated law that can get you in trouble
In Curry County on Oregon’s far South Coast,
the issue is which streams are subject to ag
water quality plans. Local Advisory Committee
Chairman Ted Fitzgerald said his associates
read the 1010 law, and determined it covers
only those streams the state listed as out of
compliance with water quality standards. ODA
takes the position that all streams, except
those short coastal streams blocked from the
ocean by beach sands, are regulated.
“This is overbroad, to include non-listed
watersheds,” Fitzgerald told the ag board.
ODA apparently told the committee its work was
finished. The committee, which met March 2
anyway, instructed Fitzgerald to say it wants
to continue involvement. Ray Jaindl, the ODA
1010 coordinator, said he would forward public
comments being taken until March 15.
Jaindl said the department substituted a rule
adopted a couple of years ago for the Coquille
Basin when it reached what it considered an
impasse with the Coastal Curry local advisory
Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail
address is email@example.com.