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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

 Put Blame in right place
Herald and News letter by Ed Baley, Tulelake Irrigation District board of directors president 9/8/05

Put blame in right place

In response to J. A. Gonzales and other individuals within the Basin who have had well problems:

Blame has been placed on Tulelake Irrigation District for causing well problems. Since the water cutoff in 2001, many individuals within the Klamath Reclamation Project in both Oregon and California have also drilled wells.

While pumping may have an impact on the ground aquifer, there are other factors to consider. For example, reduced surface irrigation due to idling of lands for the water bank and the extremely dry watershed could also contribute to the problem. But the truth is, Tulelake Irrigation District is running wells not for the benefit of farmers, but for additional water for salmon.

Let's place the blame where it belongs: the Endangered Species Act.

If you have any doubts about this act, ask any logger, rancher, farmer, fisherman or many others what its impacts are. It sounds like a wonderful idea to most people - until their lives are directly affected by it.

The act has placed an extreme amount of power in the hands of a few that, in most cases, impacts individual rights.

Everyday the fingers of the act reach out and impact the lives of more and more individuals and, in this case, it is the individual homeowner's wells.

Until 2001, the Klamath Reclamation Project had no need for wells. Irrigation water came from Upper Klamath Lake. The full power of the act was felt with the shutting off of water to farms that had used this water for 100 years.

The act dictated that endangered species had more rights to the water than the people of the Klamath Basin, regardless of government contracts or historical use or common sense. Farmers and the Tulelake Irrigation District drilled wells to help protect landowners from the disaster of 2001.

The power of this act is then used (decided by a very few) to tap this new resource of groundwater to protect the endangered suckers and salmon - Hallelujah. They now had a supplemental source of water for the fish.

The big plan on the table now is the water bank. Somewhere, somehow, the fish need "x" number of acre-feet of water more than is available, so agriculture will provide it. How? Land idling and groundwater pumping.

We can accept the plan or not.

Either way, we're not getting the water the powers-that-be, armed with the Endangered Species Act, have determined the fish need. So 31 wells in Oregon and 10 wells operated by the Tulelake Irrigation District are being pumped, the land is being idled, the fish are getting the water and your well is going dry.

How do you fix this problem? Contact your representatives or senators to amend the Endangered Species Act to protect your rights as an individual. Put the blame where it belongs.

Ed Baley






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