Klamath Water Issues Topic Of Senate Committee Hearing

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, June 20 2013 at 5:06 PM, Updated: Thu, June 20 2013 at 5:21 PM

Senator Ron Wyden says it's time to hammer out a water agreement in the Klamath Basin...And Wyden has brought the issue to capitol hill.

This morning's senate committee hearing ran nearly three hours.

And Senator Wyden was adamant about the goals of the hearing...

"Let's have some suggestions at this point on how we can continue to bring the parties together, and do it in a way that we can save come of the costs to the taxpayers."

The current KBRA and dam removal agreements currently don't have enough political support - or federal funding.

And those for, and against the KBRA have reached an impasse.

"Currently, that's what our members voted for."  Stated Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry.  "And that's what we and I as a representative of the Klamath Tribes have the authority to discuss."

"The people do not want this direction right now."  Argues Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams.  "They are not in favor of this.  The votes have been anywhere from 65 to 80 percent."

But Yurok Tribes Executive Director Troy Fletcher says Wyden's hearing has given him hope...

"What is new is your enthusiasm for getting past a stalemate."

While there were few new solutions, all parties agree that time is running out.

Klamath County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Charles 'Chip' Massie:  "It really has to start now, because ten years from now we can't be doing the same thing."

And Senator Wyden agrees...

"This has gone on long enough.  And just as you all have said, Mr. Nicholson, and Mr. Mallams have said, there are a lot of families hurting right now."

...And a dry summer is likely to only heat up the issue.

Wyden announced his plans to today's hearing at a recent town hall meeting in Klamath Falls.

You can watch all of today's hearing at this link:  www.tinyurl.com/q8bhdot 

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About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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