Votes taken on water deal Deadline passes for groups to sign water agreement
by TY BEAVER February 11, 2010
The majority of irrigator groups, fisheries, tribes and government agencies involved in crafting the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement say they will support the landmark settlement.
But at least four groups so far say they will oppose the document and a related dam removal agreement.
A 30-day public review period for the restoration agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement — which would study removal of four Klamath River dams — expired Tuesday. Stakeholders spent years crafting the documents in order to resolve conflicts over water in the Klamath River watershed.
It’s not clear yet how actively opponents will campaign against the agreements, but proponents say they are determined to move ahead by seeking legislation and funding from federal lawmakers.
“Whether they are constructive or destructive is up to them,” said supporter Glen Spain, northwest regional director for Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.
Supporters include more than a dozen irrigation districts on and off the Klamath Reclamation Project; the Klamath, Karuk and Yurok tribes; the governments of Klamath and Humboldt counties; several environmental groups and the state of Oregon.
Opponents include the environmental groups Friends of the River and North Coast Environmental Center, which say the agreements don’t do enough to improve the condition of fish and the health of the Klamath River. That’s also the stance of the Hoopa Tribe, whose members fish salmon on the Trinity River, a tributary of the Klamath.
“The settlements are not based on the best available science, and the science underlying the settlements has not been the subject of peer review or an open public process,” said Leonard Masten, Hoopa tribal chairman, in a press release.
Another opponent, the Klamath Off-Project Water Users, cited the agreement’s lack of guarantees of a stable water supply and low-cost power as well as its overall implementation cost.
And there are still some stakeholders who haven’t made an official decision. Several irrigation districts and the government of Siskiyou County in California are taking advantage of an extended 60-day period to continue reviewing the document before determining whether to sign on.
Spain said the effort to push federal legislation needs as much support as possible, but those opposed need not be bitter enemies. Opponents could serve as watchdogs to ensure the agreements are implemented correctly.
“It’s not just us versus them,” he said.
Mike Carrier, natural resources policy adviser for Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, said controversy is a regular aspect of federal legislation, and there have already been attempts by opponents to lobby against the agreements in Washington, D.C.
“We never felt or believed we’d have 100 percent support for this,” he said.
However, he said stakeholders were confident that the sheer numbers and diversity of the agreements’ supporters would provide a strong front when the documents are presented to Congress.
Who’s for, who’s against
While a few stakeholder groups are taking extra time to review the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and a related dam removal agreement, the majority have said whether they will support or reject the documents.
Here’s a breakdown of where the stakeholders stand:
• State of Oregon
• State of California
• Klamath County
• Humboldt County
• Klamath Tribe
• Karuk Tribe
• Yurok Tribe
• Tulelake Irrigation District
• Klamath Irrigation District
• Klamath Drainage District
• Klamath Basin Improvement District
• Malin Irrigation District
• Midland District Improvement Company
• Shasta View Irrigation District
• Sunnyside Irrigation District
• Van Brimmer Ditch Company
• Westside Improvement District
• Klamath Water Users Association
• Klamath Water and Power Agency
• Upper Klamath Water Users Association
• Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
• American Rivers
• California Trout
• National Center for Conservation Science and Policy
• Northern California/Nevada Council Federation of Fly Fishers
• Salmon River Restoration Council
• Trout Unlimited
• Institute for Fisheries Resources
• Hoopa Tribe
• Klamath Off Project Water Users
• Friends of the River
• North Coast Environmental Center