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County close to vote on water

Commissioners havenít finalized positions
By Ty Beaver, Herald and News 4/10/08
Al Switzer is against removing dams in the Klamath River. So is Bill Brown.
But the two Klamath C ou nt y c om m i s s ion - ers say they havenít yet decided whether to support or oppose a proposed water settlement that hinges on removal of four dams on the river.
   Neither has commissioner John Elliott, who was involved in water settlement talks and negotiations with 26 stakeholder groups, including Klamath Basin irrigators and the Klamath Tribes.
   All three say they are leaning a certain direction, but wonít say for sure until they officially vote.
   K l a m a t h C o u nt y i s the only stakeholder that hasnít taken a stand on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, and its three commissioners ó Switzer, Brown and Elliott ó say they will vote soon.
   T he ag reement allo - cates water in the Klamath River Basin among tribes, fisheries, conservationists and irrigators.
   It also advocates removal of four hydroelectric dams owned by PacifiCorp, a Portland-based power company. PacifiCorp has made no decision on dam removal.
   The commissioners are faced with opposing interest groups in their own county. Klamath Tribes support the agreement, which would provide them financial support to purchase the Mazama Tree farm property between Chiloquin and Chemult.
   Klamath Water Users Association also supports the agreement, but two groups of irrigators who work land off the Klamath Reclamation Project do not. Neither does the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, which voted against it because it advocated dam removal.
   Attempt at meeting
   Klamath County commissioners tried to arrange a facilitated meeting involving on- and off-Project irrigators and the Klamath Tribes to see if the groups could resolve issues with the agreement. Off-Project irrigators say the agreement doesnít provide them any guaranteed water or stable power rates.
   But attempts to organize the meeting fell through Tuesday when the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents on-Project irrigators who support the water settlement, told the county it would no longer meet.
   K lamath Tribes also avoided committing to a meeting, saying it was negotiating with individual irrigators through small group meetings.
   Off-Project irrigators had agreed to the meeting.
   Advisory council
   County commissioners say they will ask for a recommendation from their natural resource advisory council. The council meets at 5 p.m. today in the Klamath County Government Center.
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