Proposed water rule targets Klamath County

Proposed water rule targets Klamath County
by Lyle Ahrens

July 31, 2014

A rule proposed by the state could place big limitations on the use of water wells serving Klamath Falls during a drought, and the rule would only apply to Klamath County.

Klamath Falls City Manager Nathan Cherpeski believes a proposed ruling by the Oregon Water Resources Department would make city wells subject to ‘calls’ from senior water users…

“The rule combines all waters.” Explains Cherpeski. “Groundwater, and surface water. And whenever there’s a ‘call’, then groundwater essentially goes to just human consumption.”

“This rule would be exclusive to Klamath County.” Points out City Water Division Manager Randy Travis.

Cherpeski believes that would mean no water for industrial, or commercial use.

Randy Travis believes the ruling would apply to all of the city’s wells…

“We have 11 wells, the largest source is our Conger well field, it’s 6 wells – and it would potentially affect over 80% of the urban area.”

Cherpeski says he learned of the proposed ruling only a few hours before a meeting on the 24th with the Oregon Water Resources Department.

“It certainly is different than what the state has done in the past, and beyond what we believe the statute says they can do.”

Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams says he also learned of the meeting at the last minute…

“Whether it’s against Oregon meeting laws, I don’t know that for sure – but it doesn’t pass my ‘smell test’.”

The city and county have requested the state to schedule another hearing for public comment.