Mikkelsen speaks to long-term water solutions. Hundreds attend
KWUA annual water meeting
senior advisor to Sec. Ryan Zinke on water and western
resources, is working with a team of congressional and state
leaders on what he calls a “skeletal framework” for a
long-term solution to the ongoing water conflicts in the
unveiled the concept during a speech to a nearly
standing-room-only crowd at Reames Golf and Country Club on
Thursday evening, where area residents and irrigators
gathered for the annual Klamath Water Users Association
meeting. The meeting drew upwards of 200 people, according
to Scott White, executive director of the KWUA.
White said he
wished there was such a large crowd every year, but
understands the magnitude of why everyone turned out this
“I wish we had
better news,” White said, noting there is still no
definitive start date for water for on-Project irrigators.
“You can see the concern, you can see the anxiety that’s
going on now.”
to offer hope, and even some humor, for irrigators
struggling with how to approach the coming water shortages.
Mikkelsen emphasized he is an “advocate of consensus”
between all parties, and not for just one of the parties.
Denver, he holds weekly calls with federal and state
officials from both Oregon and California to discuss and vet
a framework for a solution to water issues.
is under review of everybody on my team,” Mikkelsen said.
“We developed this within my office to start with.”
we’re not going to go anywhere without congressional buy-in,
and so, the very first people I visited here were the
members of Congress. I visited all of them several times
personally and they were all 100 percent committed to a
“We have so
many state issues that we have to deal with, because the
states are the ones that control water adjudication and
water quality issues … And so, we have to have buy-in from
the states with what we’re doing.
starts coming together, I think it’s actually going to move
more quickly than what a lot of people might anticipate,”
White, who is
familiar with the framework, shared feedback on it on
“I think that’s
his attempt at saying, ‘It’s time to go. We’ve got the
framework laid,” White said, noting that it’s a green light
for stakeholders to meet with parties. “This year is
critical for many,” White added.
it is up to local residents to “put meat on the bones” to
the skeletal structure of a solution.
emphasized that many irrigators are looking short term at
just how they can survive the year.
survival is what’s going to put meat on the bones,” White
said. “That is what the parties want or need. For us, (that
is) water security. It’s huge.”
Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, shared
prepared video messages and a field aide from U.S. Rep Greg
Walden’s office regional office spoke to the crowd, all
expressing commitment to working with local parties.
about what’s going on here and people are here because they
care,” Mikkelsen said. “I’m hoping at the end of the day
that people will go away (believing) that there is some hope
here, and that people do care.”
When asked if
Zinke would visit the Klamath Basin, Mikkelsen said, “If we
can get to a settlement, yes. We’re going to reserve that
until we get a solution.”
was mum about the details of the “skeleton” framework, he
said it’s an approach that would allow parties in the Basin
to create their own solution.
optimistic that we are going to start engaging in very
substantive discussions with the development what people put
on the skeleton,” Mikkelsen said. “I think that will begin
to bring people together in a way that they, the people in
this Basin, all the way from the Ocean to here, will be able
to come up with the solutions that are needed for the Basin.
“… In my own
mind, I believe that’s going to occur more quickly than most
of us anticipate or think would be possible. The people of
this Basin have been through this before.
depth of knowledge here, there’s a passion here for the
place in which they live, and I really believe that the
solutions are here within the people that live here,” he
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