owned or leased land in the Klamath
Reclamation Project on April 6, 2001, are
urged to join a class-action lawsuit in
order to receive compensation, pending a
decision in the so-called “takings” case.
believe they may have a claim to
compensation related to the water shutoffs
of 2001 have approximately 90 days to fill
out one form allowing them to join the case,
certified by Federal Claims Court Judge
Marian Blank Horn as a class-action.
expect to receive an “Entry of Appearance”
form partially filled out by their
irrigation district. Forms must be returned
to Klamath Falls water attorney Bill Ganong
by May 19 in order to be eligible to join
the suit for compensation.
The case stems
from when the Bureau of Reclamation shut off
water to Basin irrigators in order to
protect endangered fish downstream in the
Klamath River in 2001.
argues water had to be used to meet the
requirements of biological opinions issued
that year to promote the health of the
sucker and coho salmon.
prevail, the irrigators may be awarded up to
$28 million. More importantly to them, the
irrigators hope a ruling in their favor
would mean that federal agencies must
balance agriculture’s loss against the
benefits to fish downstream.
“(The Entry of
Appearance) lays out the timelines and the
requirements for giving notice to people who
owned land in 2001 or were leasing and
farming land in 2001,” Ganong said.
“You have to
have owned land that is related to the
Klamath Project in 2001 or leased it in 2001
to be in the class,” Ganong said. “It also
says it only applies to the west side of the
project that receives water from Upper
Klamath Lake. The east side, which is
Langell Valley, which is served from Clear
Lake and Gerber — they actually had water in
they’ve had a lot tougher time but then they
were okay,” Ganong said, referencing the
to return the form as soon as possible.
“If you think
there’s any possibility you have a claim,
file it,” Ganong said. “You do not get
penalized for filing it. If you don’t file
it, then you’re out.”
4,000 people could qualify for compensation,
Ganong said, which could be distributed by
Judge Horn in one of two ways, pending if
her decision favors irrigators. One is a
lump sum of approximately $28 million, plus
“We said there
were 336,000 acre feet of water that were
not delivered and we said each acre foot was
worth $88.86,” Ganong said. “If you do that
math, you come up with about $28 million.”
After 16 years
since the start of the case, Ganong said the
interest on top of the proposed lump sum
could double the award, if such an option is
chosen by the judge.
would be to award funds to individual
irrigators who opt in to the case, depending
on how much irrigation water they used in
completely up to the judge, and she may say
we’re not entitled to any money at all,”
Ganong said. “That’s part of the spectrum of
the plaintiff — Marzulla Law, a Washington,
D.C.-based firm — filed the third part of
the takings case in federal court on Feb.
24: Lonny E. Baley, et al, v. United States
and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s
Associations. The case is consolidated, also
including John Anderson Farms, Inc., et al,
v. United States.
completed testimonies by the plaintiff and
defendant in the Federal Claims Court in the
nation’s capital Feb. 10. Final oral
arguments by the plaintiff and defendant
will take place on May 9, according Ganong.
“It’ll be a
while before we get a decision,” Ganong
water refers to land subject to one of two
types of contracts with the United States:
Repayment or ‘A’ districts; or Warren Act
contracts also called ‘B’ contracts.
“There is land,
such as the Running Y Ranch, that has a
Warren Act contract that’s not served by the
district but is eligible because they use
Klamath Project water,” Ganong said.
land on both the west and east sides of the
lakes that have Warren Act contracts that we
will notify,” he added. “Anybody that was
served by an irrigation district will
receive this notice and this form from the
irrigation district. The order requires that
the district fill in the second page.”
submit entries for a shared databank-style
spreadsheet with Marzulla Law in Washington,
thousands of them, I hope,” Ganong said.
“The idea is to make sure as many people opt
in as they can.”
addresses a number of scenarios for
landowners, including in the case where a
landowner or lessee who died in the years
after 2001 can be reimbursed through a claim
by way of a relative.
districts are no longer plaintiffs in the
case, but individual irrigators are.
“The reason we
initially named the districts is to give the
court the option of certifying this as a
class-action, which is now where we’re at,”
Ganong said. “Because the court distributed
it as a class-action, there just wasn’t any
need for the districts to be plaintiff any
class-action members include irrigators from
the following districts: Enterprise
Irrigation District, Klamath Basin
Improvement District, Klamath Drainage
District, Klamath Hills District Improvement
Company, Klamath Irrigation District, Malin
Irrigation District, Pine Grove Irrigation
District, Poe Valley Irrigation District;
Shasta View Irrigation District, Sunnyside
Irrigation District; Tulelake Irrigation
District, Van Brimmer Ditch Company.
March 17, Ganong and Marzulla Law will
submit an updated list of irrigators who are
joining the class action suit.
By April 17,
both plaintiffs and defendants will file a
post trial brief with the court, followed by
an opportunity for both sides to respond.
related to joining the class-action are due
to Ganong’s office by May 19.
pending for 17 years,” Ganong said. “I don’t
have any false hopes,” Ganong added. “We
were all pleased that she took the bull by
the horns and got it to trial and didn’t let
it get postponed. She gave us as much time
as we wanted in a full, complete trial.”