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Judge hears water agreement arguments
KBRA validation decision delayed
by SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 6/16/11
A Klamath County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday delayed ruling on Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement validation proceedings, saying he would review the arguments and set a date for his judgment.
Validation is a procedural requirement in the KBRA that affirms irrigation districts followed state law when they signed the KBRA on behalf of their members, district officials said.
The KBRA seeks to establish sustainable water supplies and affordable power rates for irrigators, help the Klamath Tribes acquire a 92,000-acre parcel of private timberland, and fund habitat restoration in the region.
Arguments Wednesday were not about whether the validation should be granted, but rather whether three activist groups had the right to challenge the petition.
If Judge Cameron Wogan decides they don’t, the groups’ challenges will be dismissed and only a challenge from an individual irrigator would stand.
Since last summer anti-KBRA groups have been challenging the authority of the Klamath Irrigation, Shasta View Irrigation and Malin Irrigation districts to sign the KBRA on behalf of their members and their efforts to validate that action in court.
The groups — Citizens Protecting Rural Oregon, Klamath Off-Project Water Users, and Water for Life — say a petition for validation forces members into compliance with the KBRA, which the groups say is illegal.
They also say the validation petition could certify the entire agreement, not just irrigation districts’ authority, based on language in the validation requirement: “The Klamath Project Water Entities shall … file actions in accordance with applicable law seeking validation or confirmation of this agreement …”
But Bill Ganong, lawyer for the irrigation districts, said Wednesday the petition clearly asks the court to certify the districts followed procedures required of public bodies — public meetings, quorums, etc. — thereby certifying the district’s authority to sign on behalf of its members.
Ganong asked the judge to dismiss the challenge to the case, saying the activist groups had no standing to challenge the validation. He argued that according to state law, only individual members of irrigation groups could challenge their district’s authority to become a signatory.
Melinda Davison, a Portland attorney, rejected Ganong’s argument and said members in the groups she represents — Citizens Protecting Rural Oregon and Klamath Off-Project Water Users — are part of the irrigation districts, so the groups have the standing to challenge the petition.
Page Updated: Friday June 17, 2011 03:36 AM Pacific
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