OWRD responds to
Tribes' call on water
Herald and News by Holly
Water Resources Department validated a call for water by the
Klamath Tribes Thursday for water on the Sprague and
Williamson rivers and tributaries, and Upper Klamath Marsh
by making stream flow measurements, according to an
informational resource issued by Tyler Martin, Klamath Falls
spent Monday visiting water right holders in affected
drainage areas. Watermaster staff may be in the Williamson
River area in coming days and weeks to check points of
diversion, monitor and regulate water use, and speak with
The current call on water by the Tribes, which also extends
to Wood River but has not been validated by the state as of
press time, is for the protection of both the base and high
habitat flows, according to the state’s news release.
are two types of base flows, geologic and biologic,” said
Diana Enright, an OWRD spokesperson.
this case, these are biologic base flows, which are
estimated as a lower protective threshold that provide
biologically necessary habitat for fish and other aquatic
Treaty of 1864 allows the Klamath Tribes to hunt, fish, trap
and gather on the former reservation land, according to the
state’s news release. The Tribes presented information and
evidence during adjudication of their water rights in 2013
that flows occurring at certain intervals on the Williamson
and Sprague rivers and their tributaries, are necessary to
replenish the riparian habitat that supports the hunting,
fishing and gathering treaty rights.
is the first time since our water rights were quantified and
enforceable that we’ve had flood conditions like this that
would warrant the call that we’re making,” said Don Gentry,
chairman of the Klamath Tribes.
is necessary for the health of the streams and riparian
areas, important to restoring our fisheries.”
Klamath Tribes have instream determined claims that provide
for the protection of instream flows during low-flow periods
(riparian habitat base flows), and for the Williamson and
Sprague rivers and tributaries, for the protection of
habitat high flows during spring runoff months.
priority date for these instream determined claims is time
immemorial, or senior to all other water rights.
news release also states the determined water right claims
allow the Tribes to provide for “healthy and productive”
fish, animal and plant habitat.
Rep. E. Werner Reschke issued a statement in response to the
call on water.
very disappointed that this call has been initiated by the
Klamath Tribes and validated by the Oregon Water Resources
Department at a time when our rivers are literally running
over their banks,” Reschke said in a statement. “This
decision negatively impacts farmers and ranchers up and down
the basin and defies conventional logic. Oregonians lose
when we allow one group to exercise exorbitant control over
the rights of others. The American way is collaboration and
good neighbor relations, rather than overreaching exercise
of power and rights. I encourage the Klamath Tribes to
reconsider and to work together with their neighbors instead
of causing strife.”
acknowledged the concern.
understand the concerns for the agricultural community, but
there needs to be concerns for the status of our fisheries,”
Gentry said. “Our fisheries should be just as important, and
the stability of our fisheries as other economic needs in
Water users are encouraged to contact the local watermaster
at 541-883-4182 with questions or to learn more. Updated
water distribution materials are also available at on the
OWRD’s website at www.oregon.gov.
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