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Feds to pay back water users
http://www.heraldandnews.com/articles/2004/03/01/news/community_news/acit1.txt

Published March 1, 2004

By DYLAN DARLING

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is set to release more than $2.3 million for Klamath Basin irrigation districts to pay back customers for operation and maintenance fees paid during the 2001 water shut off.

Although only a scant amount of water flowed through Klamath Reclamation Project canals in 2001, irrigators still paid fees for operation and maintenance of the system.

"I've said many times that you shouldn't have to pay for something you don't receive, and that's exactly what the law required of Klamath Basin irrigators who paid for the operation and maintenance of the canals even though they received virtually no water in 2001," U.S. Rep. Greg Walden said in a press release.

Walden, a Republican, introduced legislation to authorize the reimbursements in August 2001. The measure passed the House in November 2001 without opposition, and the legislation passed unanimously in the Senate almost a year later.

President signed the bill into law on December 17, 2002, but money wasn't appropriated for the reimbursement until this fiscal year's budget.

The annual Energy and Water Appropriations bill provided $2.6 million for the reimbursements, though the Bureau of Reclamation determined that only $2.3 million was required to refund the irrigators. More than $2 million will be delivered next week, with the balance being provided over the course of the next few months.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will deposit the money into the bank accounts of irrigation districts affected by the 2001 shutoff starting Tuesday, said Dave Sabo, Klamath project manager.

Klamath Irrigation District, the project's largest district will get the biggest piece of the pie, with $1.3 million set to come in from the federal government.

The district is working on a plan for getting the money to the 4,000 accounts that paid for operation and maintenance in 2001 said Dave Solem, district manager.

"There is quite a bit of process to it," he said. "It may very well take a few weeks for us to do this."

He said the checks will be paid to irrigators who were district customers in 2001. How much each irrigator is paid depends on how many acres he or she has.

"It will range from just a few to a couple of thousand dollars," Solem said.

On the Net:

For a table detailing the amounts being delivered to each irrigation district, go on the Internet to www.walden.house.gov/issues/klamath/oandm.pdf.

 

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