22 Feb 2010, 11:28pm
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by admin

Klamath Restoration Agreement Makes Water Rights a Water Sport

By Karla Kay Edwards, Cascade Policy Institute, February 22, 2010 [here]

Summary: The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement signed on February 18, 2010 will critically impact the way water rights are determined in Oregon. With so many victims of the process, the one-sided adulation by the Governors of Oregon and California, as well as others present at the signing ceremony in the state capitol rotunda, is disheartening.

The Klamath Basin has been waging a water war of epic proportions since 2001. Although this community has had a long history of water disputes, the issue garnered national recognition in early 2001 when a drought was declared and irrigators’ water was turned off in order to protect endangered fish in the Klamath River. It took another four years of economic and environmental catastrophes before many of the parties involved would join together in July 2005 to begin to discuss a settlement agreement. At this point the real game began, and the rules started to change.

Water rights have developed over decades from a common-law basis where prior appropriation was key. Water rights are established on a timeline, with the most assured rights held by the oldest rights holder, known as “senior.” All water rights with a date filed after that time are considered “junior” to the senior water right holder. So, for example, during a drought the junior water right holder must turn off their water before the senior right holder does. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement signed on February 18, 2010 overturns this system and risks throwing the region into chaos. … [more]

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