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Tribes position in water settlement clarified
Herald and News December 17, 2011
An article, “The future of water adjudication,” published Sunday, Dec. 11, inaccurately described how the adjudication settlement works between Klamath Reclamation Project users and the Klamath Tribes, according to Jeff Mitchell, Klamath Tribes negotiation team member.
He said the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement settlement would work like this:
“The Tribes have agreed to not place calls on the Project water users based on the Tribes’ water rights (whatever those may turn out to be) on Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River, so long as the Project diversions are below an agreed amount. Within the scope of this settlement, the Project water users agree not to contest the Tribes’ claimed priority date or claimed amount.”
Mitchell continued: “If the KBRA does not move ahead, the Project can reengage in adjudication and contest the Tribes claims. On the flip side, the Tribes would regain the ability to fully assert any rights ultimately adjudicated against the Project.
“The Tribes have not in any way agreed to exchange their time immemorial priority date for a 1908 priority date. The KBRA does not make decisions about priority dates and the amount of water anyone has a water right to — that is the jurisdiction of the adjudication. Instead, the KBRA is an arrangement between the Tribes and the Project irrigators that lays out how each party will behave in regard to water rights calls and diversions.”
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