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Irrigation water block is no guarantee for Basin

by Tom Mallams Klamath County Commissioner for Herald and News 12/16/14
     In the Dec. 13 Herald and News, I was incorrectly quoted as saying there is a “guaranteed” block of water for Project irrigators in the proposed water agreements.

   I have never said this. I have consistently said they only “claim” or “attempt” to have a guaranteed block of water for Project irrigators. A few misplaced words drastically alter the facts.

   Wise and prudent allocation and use of water resources in the Klamath Basin is absolutely critical for the economic and social viability of all our citizens.

   I am not against water for the environment including fishery resources. I am, however, continuing to advocate for a real, balanced approach. Project irrigators, upper Basin irrigators and local residents deserve this balance as a real partnership. The net usage of water by the entire Basin population, including upper and lower Basin irrigated agriculture, is an extremely low-percentage number.  

   I have been told those estimates could easily be well below 10 percent of the total water available. Upper Basin water is recaptured and reused by downstream users a number of times before entering Upper Klamath Lake and then being used and re-used as many as seven times by Project irrigators.

   All irrigation water helps recharge the underground aquifer. This is indeed wise and prudent use of this natural resource for all. The continued positive economic impact by irrigated agriculture is undeniable, and loss of it would be totally devastating to all, including the environment.

   I continue advocating for a balanced solution, which was missing in Sen. Wyden’s SB 2379 legislation. The hard work to date is not without merit. With a definite change of power in Washington, D.C., I look for a new effort going forward that will have the Basin-wide support that has been lacking to date. I eagerly look forward to actively supporting this needed balanced direction for all.  



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