A agreement on Upper Klamath Basin water issues has been reached that the Governor is calling 'historic'...but that agreement could still face some opposition.
The agreement in the ongoing fight over water in the Klamath Basin addresses off-project irrigation above Upper Klamath Lake.
Andrea Rabe of Rabe Consulting: "It's an historic agreement between the Klamath Tribes and the irrigation community as a whole."
But Klamath County Commissioner and off-project irrigator Tom Mallams isn't so sure...
"It's kind of a 'lose-lose' situation for the irrigators, in many respects - and I think every irrigator is going to have to make up their own mind."
Garrett Roseberry of the Sprague River Water Resource Foundation notes that the 94-page agreement was released Wednesday...
"There's a water component to it, there's a restoration component to it, and an economic development package for the Klamath Tribe."
The water element would increase flows into Upper Klamath Lake through voluntary irrigation reductions.
The Klamath Tribes would get about 45 million dollars for economic development.
Garrett Roseberry adds that four hydroelectric dams would still be removed from the Klamath River...
"It is part of the package. This agreement runs parallel to the KBRA (Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement) and the KHSA." (Klamath Hydro Settlement Agreement)
The agreement now heads out for a series of public hearings in Bly, (Bly Fire Hall, March 10th, 4-6 p.m.) Sprague River, (Sprague River Community Center, March 12th, 4-6 p.m.) and Chiloquin. (Chiloquin Community Center, March 13th, 4-6 p.m.)
The agreement must also be approved by a vote of Klamath Tribal members.
While the agreement may help to resolve water disputes, Andrea Rabe notes that it can't prevent a drought...
"So this year, whether we have a settlement or not, there probably will not be water for irrigation because it physically doesn't exist."
The agreement is now under a 30 day review period.
Backers hope to have the agreement ready for signing by the Governor, and Senators Wyden and Merkley in Klamath Falls on April 14th.
That signing would clear the way for federal legislation to fund the plan.