Commission Rejects Basin
By Todd Kepple, K-Falls Herald & News
July 30, 2005
Water Resources Commission on Friday unanimously denied a petition by environmentalists to stop issuing
new water rights in the Klamath Basin.
Portland-based WaterWatch was joined by 10 other groups in
asking the commission to put the Basin's surface and groundwaters off-limits to applications for any new water rights.
Agricultural interests in the Basin opposed the move that would have made it impossible to get water
rights for new wells or reservoirs. The staff of the Oregon Water Resources Department also recommended
the commission deny the petition.
The Water Resources Commission includes seven citizens
appointed by the governor to set policy for and oversee the Oregon Water Resources Department.
The petition submitted to the commission by WaterWatch claimed the Klamath Basin's waters are already
overappropriated, and are depleted by drought conditions. Aquifers below the Basin are declining, even
as the state continues to issue water rights for new wells, the petition stated.
director of the Oregon Water Resources Department, acknowledged the Klamath Basin's waters are over-
appropriated during times of the year when streamflows are low and demands for water are high.
But during winter months, when flows are higher and demand for water is low, there is an opportunity
to set water aside for later use, Ward said in a recommendation to the commission.
Klamath Basin, off-season storage is a key component to augmenting water supplies," Ward's
recommendation said. "Increasing supply without further aggravating the basin's over-appropriated
condition will require a combination of off-season storage and groundwater use that does not
adversely affect surface water flows."
Debbie Colbert, a water policy analyst for the Water
Resources Department, said the commission on Friday asked for more information about water issues
in the Klamath Basin.
"They gave our department a lot of guidance, and requested that we come
back in October, and that we schedule a more thorough discussion of our department's permitting
activities, and some of the monitoring efforts that we're doing," Colbert said.
is scheduled to meet Oct. 27-28 at a location to be determined.
The petition was presented
Friday by Lisa Brown and Bob Hunter of WaterWatch, joined by Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast
Federation of Fishermen's Associations.
Barry Norris, technical services administrator for the
Water Resources Department, presented the agency's response to the petition.
comments against the petition were Sam Henzel, a director in the Klamath Drainage District; Dave
Solem, manager of the Klamath Irrigation District; and Greg Addington, executive director of the
Klamath Water Users Association.
Organizations that signed on to the WaterWatch petition
included the Oregon Natural Resources Council, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Headwaters,
Klamath Forest Alliance, Friends of the River, World Wildlife Fund, North Coast Environmental
Center, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and Trout Unlimited.
On the Net: For copies of
documents related to Friday's discussion of Klamath Basin water, go to
www.wrd.state.or.us, click on Commission, Staff Reports,
"Obtain electronic copies of these reports," July 2005, Agenda Item M.
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and as defined under the provisions of "fair use", any
copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment for non-profit research
and for educational use by our membership.