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KID rejoins KWUA after a year's absence

An uneasy quiet set in among board members after irrigator Greg Carleton pitched the idea of rejoining Klamath Water Users Association on Tuesday — possibly the quietest part of the meeting — in which members later voted unanimously to rejoin the advocacy group.

It has been more than a year since the Klamath Irrigation District (KID) voted to leave the association in late 2015. That spurred acrimony among the KID board that eventually led to a recall election of three board members last year; only one was successfully recalled.

“Timing is good right now, but for the most part, I want a unified voice in the project, and we are doubling our costs on several things that I don’t feel we need to,” Carleton told fellow board members.


Carleton, KID president, has been favorable to the idea of pooling district resources to help offset mounting legal fees since taking the lead KID role, and solidified his position Tuesday at the regular meeting.

“It’s a natural progression with the issues that we have to deal with today,” Carleton said, following the meeting. “We all hope to move forward and make Water Users a stronger organization.”

‘Seat at the table’

Board member Dave Cacka emphasized that membership with KWUA gives KID a “seat at the table” for key decisions impacting Klamath Project irrigators, including the formation of a new biological opinion in relation to the outcome of litigation involving the Hoopa and Yurok Tribes and KID.

“We have to go to Washington with a unified voice and I don’t necessarily say that we’re going to get total ESA (Endangered Species Act) reform or legislative relief, but there are avenues that we can go down to give us leverage.”

“If we rejoin Water Users as a district, it is up to this board to appoint a representative that is going to go to the meetings and reshape the organization in the way KID would like to see it reshaped,” Cacka said.

“We don’t go to Water Users to see what Water Users is doing for us. We participate within Water Users and tell them what we would like them to do for us and do for the (Klamath) Project and do for the community as a whole. As a board, we have to take a more engaged approach.”

Scott White, executive director of the KWUA, was in California Tuesday and said he is “thrilled” with the decision.

“The division is clear when they pulled out of Water Users,” White said. “I’m hopeful we can convince them that the Water Users is an organization looking out for the water rights of the Klamath Project water users.”

Patron opposition

Various KID patrons at the meeting spoke out against rejoining KWUA, including longtime irrigator John Bair.

Bair shared a belief with board members that KID had been treated unfairly regarding voting rights while with the KWUA.

Rob Unruh, longtime member of the KWUA, disputed the claim.

“I cannot recall a time that KID was outvoted,” Unruh said.

Irrigator David Oxley also weighed in. “If we can learn from history and address these issues now … it could be a positive thing,” Oxley said.

KID board member Grant Knoll expressed concern that not enough patrons were favorable to rejoining the KWUA, which prompted him to nominate himself to represent KID on the KWUA after its approval.

When asked about concerns with the KWUA, White said any and all KID patrons with questions or concerns can talk with him.

For the benefit of KID patrons, White also expressed a desire to attend KID meetings when able to do so.

“We’re looking at some better options to keep our irrigation community better informed,” White said. “I’m always eager to hear those concerns.”

Those wanting to learn more about KWUA and membership can contact Scott White at 541-883-6100.





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