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Klamath Basin Task Force Will Be Coordinated By Governor's Office

Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation joined Gov. John Kitzhaber Monday to announce the creation of a task force to work on long term solutions to water and power issues in the Klamath River Basin.

The task force is being coordinated by Governor Kitzhaber’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor — Richard Whitman.

He says the task force springs from a hearing last month before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Oregon’s Ron Wyden. 

Whitman says the hearing raised topics not covered by the 2008 Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

“And so that’s what that this task force is being convened (for), in order to provide recommendations to Congress in order to how to resolve the remaining issues,” Whitman says.

One of those issues is how to manage water in the upper Klamath Basin.  Hundreds of ranchers and irrigators outside the Klamath Irrigation Project have already had their water cut off due to the drought there.

Another hurdle is the cost.  The agreement has a price tag between $550 million and $750 million.  At last month’s hearing, Wyden remarked it was unaffordable in the current budget environment.