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Water shutoffs to continue; Judge denies temporary stoppage on Klamath Basin adjudication enforcement
Klamath County Circuit Court Judge Cameron Wogan denied legal requests to temporarily stop enforcement of adjudication and water shutoffs at a hearing Friday.
Ranchers in the Klamath Basin asked for a temporary restraining order before hearings on a stay of enforcement in coming weeks. The requests to stay, or stop, enforcement are being made against junior water right shutoffs after calls for water were made earlier this week.The Klamath Tribes and Klamath Project irrigators made the first calls for water Monday. Senior water right holders — those with water rights dating back the farthest — can call for junior water right holders — those with more recently issued water rights — to be shut off to keep the senior water rights whole. The tribes have the oldest water rights, going back to time immemorial. Adjudication, or enforcement of these water rights, became a reality this year with the final order of determination released March 7.
Wogan entertained two hearings Friday: first, the request for a temporary restraining order from the group listed as the Upper Basin Contestants — a collection of ranchers in the Upper Klamath Basin; second, from the Mathis Family Trust, which requested a temporary stay before the hearings on the stay of enforcement in coming weeks.The hearings lasted nearly five hours. Ranchers, families and Klamath tribal representatives filled the courtroom. They filled the gallery, brought in extra chairs and then sat in the jury box.
After a 15-minute recess, Wogan gave his ruling denying the temporary orders. But he said the decision will not affect later decisions he may make in the cases.He told the full courtroom long-term decisions will be made later.
“If this were a football game we have not even flipped the coin yet to start,” he said.He said anyone in the room, if given a magic wand, could decide on their own way to divvy up water rights in a time of scarcity. But neither citizens nor Wogan had the right to do that.
“I can’t just shoot from the hip,” he said. “I’ve got to follow the law.”He said the attorneys making the case for the temporary stay and temporary restraining order did not make the case to meet the letter of the law.
“Nothing more, nothing less,” he said.Wogan set a conference for Wednesday to monitor the status of the case and determine the next steps in the process.
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Page Updated: Sunday June 16, 2013 02:08 AM Pacific
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