Klamath Basin
8:22 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Wyden Looking For Klamath Basin's Solution

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden says he’s looking for permanent solution to the Klamath Basin’s regional water crisis in southern Oregon. And he says he wants it on his desk by September tenth. A group charged with finding those answers met Thursday in Klamath Falls.

The wildlife refuge has restored critical wetlands to the Pacific Flyway, providing habitat for large numbers of birds.
Credit jdegenhardt

Drought, water shutoffs, and dry conditions for fish and wildlife pose a difficult set of problems for the Klamath Basin task force to solve.

Becky Hyde is a rancher whose water was shut off in June. She supports regional water settlements that have already been negotiated but were never turned into law.

Hyde: “Without a plan, we live from year to year in crisis with our communities being pit against one another.”

The ranchers, conservationists, tribes, government agencies and power utilities all shared a table--but they didn’t share the same opinions.

Jim McCarthy from Oregon Waterwatch says the settlement agreements waste taxpayer dollars and don’t solve the problem of excess demand for limited water.

McCarthy: “The Klamath Agreement, if implemented, won’t provide the water that’s needed for farming for fishing, and for refuges.”

Whatever consensus is reached, Senator Wyden will still have to craft legislation and face a partisan, budget-oriented Congress.

A framework for eventual recommendations is expected at the next task force meeting--August 22 at Southern Oregon University.

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