Judge temporarily blocks controversial Siskiyou Co. water law

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Ore. —There’s a new turn in the ongoing legal battle over Siskiyou County’s controversial water ordinance.

“It’s a big win because we are going to be helping save the lives of thousands of people possible,” said Allison Margolin, an attorney representing the Hmong community.

A sense of relief, coming for many in the Hmong community in Siskiyou County. They claim that water restrictions from the county have caused the death of their livestock and vegetables.

Allison Margolin and Raza Lawrence represent the Hmong community in Siskiyou County.  But on Friday, a temporary block by a federal judge is now preventing the county from enforcing its water permit law.

“People are just thrilled to get this news,” said Lawrence.

The county ordinance prevents large water trucks from going on a few select roads, including Shasta Vista, where many Hmong immigrants live.   It also restricts water trucks from carrying more than 100 gallons of water in Butte Valley and Big Springs areas.  Some people who live there claim the restrictions are discriminatory and only target them.

“The reality is a lot of times they are trying to keep local groups out and local governments are using these ordinances to exclude the unwanted groups,” said Lawrence.

“People might look at that and think, why are you picking on certain roads, but that’s our jobs, in a sense to determine where the crimes are occurring, we have to target the crime, we’re not targeting the people,” said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue.

Earlier this summer, Sheriff LaRue told us the ordinance is not about restricting access to water for consumption. He believes the massive trucks transporting water to those areas are being used for illegal marijuana grows, a major concern for the new sheriff.

“It’s such an emergency that we hope people understand that we have to deal with the issue, and it’s best dealt with by controlling the water,” said Sheriff LaRue.

Razza and Margolin acknowledge this is just a first step in the ongoing legal battle over water in parched Siskiyou County. But nevertheless, it’s welcome news.

“It also allows the Hmong Community and other people in this community to force the county to be accountable and have people to work together as opposed to against them, and we’ll get some sort of resolution,” said Margolin.

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