Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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OWRD / Oregon Water Resources Department well
COMMENTS DUE by March 4th!
Commentary by Joan Sees, Beatty Oregon
Regarding the H&N article of Feb. 4, 2019 “Public Hearings Set on Upper Basin Well Regulation”: The dates of the hearings and the deadline are correct, however it needs to be brought to everyone’s attention upfront that these new “rules governing control of Upper Klamath Basin wells” are interim rules that are only intended to be in effect until April 2021 not March 1, 2021 as stated in the article.
The article also states that “Beginning in the 2000’s, reports from collected data documented a hydraulic connection between surface and groundwater” however in OWRD own ‘Statement of Need and Fiscal Impact’ on the proposed interim rules it is stated that “several reports documented hydraulic connection” but it is also known that several reports completed before 2000 stated that there wasn’t any hydraulic connection. So, since several do and several don’t just actually how many do and how many don’t. OWRD is again picking the “science” that will give it the outcome that it wants.
The proposed interim rules are not really protecting senior water rights but giving them all the water in the basin and putting the Upper Klamath Basin irrigators out of business. Yes, we may be allowed to irrigate for two years, but then what happens? These interim rules may regulate-off 7 wells that are within 500 feet of a surface water source. One of these 7 had been taken off the list by OWRD in 2018 under Division 9 rules but is now back on the list, since we may now be working under updated Division 25 rules specifically tooled for the Klamath Basin and putting the ‘line’ at 1 mile to regulate.
Why does the Upper Klamath Basin, and then most likely the entire Klamath Basin, need separate rules from the rest of the state? And what is the second part, new long term water management rules, going to bring? Bring us most likely back to regulating-off 2018’s 89 wells that puts us back in the same situation without being able to litigate.
No one is going to dispute that there may be some wells that interfere with surface water but each well should be tested individually to confirm or deny this possibility. A majority of the Rules Advisory Committee that met with OWRD concerning the interim rules and some of the public that attended, requested that well testing prior to regulating-off a well be incorporated into the upcoming long term water management rules.
All well irrigators need to attend one or both of the upcoming hearings on the interim rules to give their comments. Also please send in written comments to the OWR Commissioners.
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