WaterWatch of Oregon doesn't approve of Klamath Basin River Agreement

, Written by Kassi Nelson, Posted: Fri, April 18 2014 at 9:09 PM, Updated: Fri, April 18 2014 at 9:30 PM

Ashland, Ore. -- A historic agreement signed today could help ease water disputes in the Klamath Basin. But the signing wasn't without controversy.

The deal signed by state and federal leaders makes a pact between ranchers and tribes to share the scarce water supply of the upper Klamath Basin.

Governor John Kitzhaber and U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell signed off on the plan. They said it's not only a good one, but helps heal old wounds.

"The upper basin agreement that we are going to sign today reflects the desire of the community to move beyond the water wars of the past, and agree on how to share the limited resources we have for the future," Secretary Jewell said.

But not everyone was celebrating. Communications Director of WaterWatch of Oregon, Jim McCarthy, works to reform water laws.

"It's one step forward and like seven steps back," he said.

McCarthy said there's simply not enough water to go around. Especially in a drought.

"The natural supply cannot meet all the demands for irrigators, from Klamath refuges, and from the salmon," he said.

And even though the agreement works to restore habitat for endangered fish tribes hold sacred, the Fisheries Director for the Hoopa Valley Tribe said it threatens the very thing it aims to protect. Including the Klamath-Trinity River salmon fishery.

"The Klamath is run on a razors edge of whether fish die or not," he said. "There's not enough assurances, there's not enough water, there's not enough funding."

The historic signing does not mean this is the end of the ongoing battle. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said he'll introduce legislation in May.

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About the Author

Kassi Nelson

NBC5 News reporter Kassi Nelson was born and raised in Nebraska. She graduated from the journalism school at University of Nebraska Lincoln where she studied broadcasting.

She also studied philosophy in the Czech Republic. Kassi has visited nine other countries including Sochi, Russia, where she reported on the preparations for the 2014 Olympic Games.

She loves skiing and live concerts!

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