Klamath Basin water legislation introduced in Senate

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, May 22 2014 at 4:38 PM, Updated: Fri, May 23 2014 at 12:01 AM

Klamath Falls, Ore. - A senate bill has been introduced, aimed at solving water conflicts in the Klamath Basin...but the legislation isn't without opposition.

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced the legislation Wednesday.

The legislation is based on 3 agreements that are intended to be taken as a whole:  The first includes the KBRA, focusing on water use on the Klamath Project.  The KHSA, which focuses on the removal of 4 dams from the Klamath River, and an off-project agreement, focusing on water use above Upper Klamath Lake.

Greg Addington of the Klamath Water Users Association believes the bill can restore some water supply certainty to farmers, even in dry years...

"We think it can give us stability, and put us on solid footing."

Klamath County Commissioner, and irrigator Tom Mallams disagrees...

"The KBRA and dam removal needs to be separated out, and it's not - it's a part of it."

In 2010, Siskiyou County voted against dam removal by a 4 to 1 margin...and Klamath Tribal members are divided over the off-project agreement.

Despite the opposition, Addington believes the bill is still the best available alternative...

"I know that if you don't have a bill, you don't have a chance."

The bill would authorize about half a billion dollars to help meet the goals of the agreements.

The bill now heads to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Senator Wyden is a member.

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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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