Judge urges state to act on Upper Klamath Lake
— Marion County Judge Claudia M. Burton on Monday ruled in
favor of the Klamath Irrigation District (KID) by urging the
Oregon Water Resources Department to make a determination on
the distribution of water in Upper Klamath Lake.
case stems from a request by KID earlier this year of the
state water agency to regulate the water in the lake, a
request that KID officials and legal counsel said was not
response to that request has been absolutely nothing,” said
Nathan Rietmann, attorney for KID, addressing Burton. “No
action or decision or anything has been taken to control the
distribution of water.”
Rietmann said the irrigation district was not asking the
court to decide substantive water law, but emphasized KID’s
right to store water and utilize the water from the lake for
are simply asking the department to go out and perform its
duty,” Rietmann said.
Enman, vice president of KID, and Ty Kliewer, president of
KID, were among a group of nearly one dozen irrigators as
well as representatives from the state who attended the
hearing at the Marion County Courthouse in Salem.
who called the ruling a victory, said that the district made
the request to OWRD earlier this year because members allege
mismanagement by the lake’s manager, Bureau of Reclamation.
The goal for KID is that the state agency consider the
district’s rights to store water and use the water it
stores, though the Bureau of Reclamation would maintain
management of the lake.
and others at the district are concerned that if left
unregulated by the state agency, there would not be enough
water to irrigate the Klamath Project until the end of the
we want to impact is whether the Project gets shut off this
fall,” Enman said. “It’s a possibility that it coul. We want
the stored water to let us finish the irrigation season.
That’s what we want to impact.”
Kliewer, president of KID, who also attended the hearing,
emphasized the district’s water right to use stored water in
Upper Klamath Lake.
taken over 40 years to get to the point where we have a
water right and since that has happened, it has been
ignored,” Kliewer said. “It’s been very frustrating to us
and today is a step hopefully for that changing for the
better of the Basin, and people with the right to use water
in the Basin.
Kliewer emphasized the judge’s ruling compels the department
to act, giving the agency an opportunity to respond.
Gorman of the water resources agency declined to immediately
comment on the ruling following the hearing.
What does Water Resources do?
The State Water Resources Department's mission is to serve the
public by practicing and promoting responsible water management
through two key goals:
directly address Oregon's water supply needs, and
- To restore and protect
streamflows and watersheds in order to ensure the long-term
sustainability of Oregon's ecosystems, economy, and quality
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