Klamath Basin Farmers and Tribes Extend Water Deal For Two More Years

Klamath Basin Farmers and Tribes Extend Water Deal For Two More Years
By Amelia Templeton

Dec. 31, 2012

Farmers and tribes have voted to extend a restoration deal that could lead to the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The deal was set to expire December 31, 2012.

The Klamath begins in Southern Oregon’s high desert and flows through the Cascade and Klamath mountains, through California’s redwood forest to the sea. The river and its tributaries support a large federal irrigation project, as well as salmon and suckerfish populations important to several tribes that live along the river and hold senior water rights.

The 42 parties – including tribes, farmers, fisherman, and even a ditch company – signed the restoration agreement in 2010. They say the agreement will resolve decades of lawsuits over water rights and endangered fish, and improve water use and allocation during drought years.

But the agreement would cost $800 million to implement and Congress did not debate legislation authorizing the deals last session.

Greg Addington is with the Klamath Water Users Association, a farmers advocacy group. He says all 42 parties have voted to extend the agreement for two more years.

“We genuinely just want to see congress debate these agreements. Get proponents and opponents alike, get them on the record.”

The deal faces opposition from several members of Congress and local officials who oppose dam removal.