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Klamath Water Struggle Gets Hot

Pete Springer/OPB

class=”6PointSpacing”>Early last month, the long-running conflict over water in the Klamath Basin ratcheted up. The Klamath Tribes were granted senior water rights this year following a 38-year legal case. What that means is the tribes can shut off irrigation to farms and ranches in the upper basin if they determine there isn’t enough water to support their fisheries.

This has been a drought year, and the tribes called their rights June 10.

On Monday, ranchers will push back with a rally, and calling for a legal stay of the shutoff until their challenge of the tribes’ seniority is resolved. And they’re advocating, as they have in the past, for people’s economic interests to be put above fish preservation. The dispute has once again reached Washington DC, with Senator Ron Wyden saying that ranchers and other critics of the contentious 2010 water-sharing plan, called the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, need to be brought into the agreement before it could get congressional approval.

Do you live in the Klamath Basin? How has the recent assertion of water rights affected the basin? 

klamath tribe water environment

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