Tribal water call threatens Bly water supply

Bly, Ore. – A water call made by the Klamath Tribes could come at a high cost for people living in Bly.

The Tribes made a ‘call’ to exercise their senior water rights to protect endangered suckers in March.

“We start regulating water uses that are junior to the Tribal instream claim,” explained Oregon Water Resources Department Regional Manager Kyle Gorman. “And the city of Bly happens to have a well that is associated or close to the stream system which needs to be regulated for that senior use.”

The Tribe’s water rights include all tributaries to Upper Klamath Lake.

And since the well serving Bly is within a mile of one of those rivers, it’s subject to regulation.

But, since Governor Kate Brown has declared a drought in Klamath County, Gorman says an emergency provision is in place. “What that does is it allows for certain types of uses, which in this case are stock water and human consumption, to take precedent over any other water right.”

That emergency exemption will expire in October.

The people of Bly may have to pay to drill a new well, and have hired a consultant.

“To see what it would be, how much it would be, what is the feasibility of locating a well outside of that one-mile vicinity to a stream,” said Gorman.

Chiloquin is facing the same problem with a well serving their community.

Chiloquin Mayor Mark Cobb says a 2.6 million dollar loan is being secured to help design and deliver water from a new well.

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