KBRA collapse leaves Klamath Basin water future uncertain

Klamath Falls, Ore. – On January first, the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, or ‘K.B.R.A.’ expired – leaving irrigators and Tribes with an uncertain future.

For the past four years, the Klamath Tribes and project irrigators have been operating as though the K.B.R.A. was in place.

Dan Keppen of the Family Farm Alliance says that provided a calculated amount of irrigation water even during drought conditions…

“Unfortunately, we’re going to see what life’s like without the settlements, probably starting next year.”

Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry says he’s disappointed that congress failed to act on the K.B.R.A…

“The Tribe’s negotiation team, and the Tribal Council are assessing the situation, and discussing potential options.”

Klamath Basin mountain snow pack levels are currently at 123% of average for this date.

But even if the snow and rain continues, Keppen notes that there are no guarantees that there will be irrigation water for Klamath Project farmers this summer…

“It doesn’t matter how much snow we get up there.  Sometimes the way the biological opinions work, the more snow, the more snow melt there is, the more water goes to fish.”

But, Chairman Gentry cautions that there are some safeguards still in place…

“Specified deliveries will be provided in the interim, as we continue in the court phase of the adjudication.”

Gentry hopes the dialog that opened through the K.B.R.A. will continue.

“Certainly the relationships that have developed are positive.”  Noted Gentry.  “But we all know that each of the parties are going to have to do what’s best in the interest of their constituencies.”

There are also changes in some of the key players in the water negotiations.

Klamath Water Users Association Director Greg Additionton has retired, and Chairman Don Gentry’s position is up for Tribal election this spring.

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