'Adjudication'. It's a word you'll soon be hearing a lot more...
The 'Klamath River Basin Adjudication' will determine who gets water in the Klamath Basin, and how much.
Just how big is the adjudication process?
"Far bigger than the KBRA." Says Bill Ganong, attorney for the Klamath Irrigation District. "And immediate. Beginning this year, the Department of Water Resources will begin regulating water."
Klamath County Trial Court Administrator Val Paulson explains...
"The adjudication is a process for determining water rights in a basin."
Oregon water law operates on a 'first in time, first in right' basis...and the Klamath Tribes claim the Treaty of 1864 puts them first in line.
"They will receive what water they are entitled to under the order." Explains Bill Ganong. "And then all the other people in the basin will share what's left, based on the date they first began using it."
The case is assigned to Judge Cameron Wogan, who will determine just how much water the Tribes are entitled to...
"Can't take away the right." Notes Ganong. "They have an absolute right to it. But he can adjust the amount of water they're going to receive."
Ganong add that Tribal 'trump card' could benefit the KBRA...
"In fact, it may be that some of the people who have been against the KBRA will look at it, and say, 'this may help me'."
About 10 thousand pages of evidence were filed in Klamath Circuit Court this morning.
The Oregon Water Resources Department brought down about 264 cases of historical reference material, including two or three filing cabinets, and map cases.
"There were more than 730 claims." Adds Val Paulson. "There were more than 5600 contests to those claims."
The adjudication process has been underway for years...and it could take a while before a judgement is made as to who gets water.
"It began in 1975." Stated Bill Ganong. "I've been working on it for 34 years. It will not be done in my lifetime."
But, the results could have a major impact on future generations.
Here's a link to a digital copy of the 'Findings of Fact and Order of Determination' filed in Klamath County Court: