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Water summit a high priority
Discussions progressing, but settlement is yet to be reached
By TY BEAVER, Herald and News 1/15/07

A summit on Klamath Basin water issues is a high priority for the governors of Oregon and California, officials say, although no date has been set.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski of Oregon with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California proposed the summit last fall during their election campaigns. Discussions between officials and stakeholders about water supplies in the Basin need to be done before the summit is scheduled, officials say.

But everyone agreed the event will occur. “This is definitely going to happen,” Jake Weigler, Kulongoski’s spokesman, said. The Basin and Klamath River are focal points of several controversial issues.

Hydroelectric dams

Low river runs prevented Oregon Coast fishermen from fishing Coho salmon in 2006, and federal aid has been sought. PacifiCorp is attempting to relicense four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River that some say harm water quality and resident fish species.

In 2001, a drought struck the Tulelake and Klamath basins and federal officials shut off irrigation water to provide flows for salmon sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake, leading to demonstrations and economic turmoil in the Basin.

The summit would be a way to improve dialogue between local, state and federal officials and other stakeholders in regards to the area’s water supply and use. December 2006 was the intended timeframe for the summit but it was postponed at the request of stakeholders.

Settlement vs. summit

Weigler said negotiations for a settlement to water issues in the Basin need to be completed before the summit takes place. “We want to have a settlement to highlight the summit,” he said.

Greg Addington, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said discussions are progressing, but a settlement is yet to be reached. Once that is secured, a date will be set for the summit, tentatively in February.

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