Klamath Basin Once Again in Turmoil Over Water Rights

The Klamath Basin is a rugged agricultural area straddling the California-Oregon border that has seen its share of trouble. In 2001, farmers clashed with U.S. marshals and opened locked canal gates with blowtorches so they could irrigate. Nearly 10,000 agriculture activists from around the U.S. later converged on the region to hold symbolic “bucket brigade” protests.

Back then Vice President Dick Cheney personally intervened and worked behind the scenes to have water delivered to the growers — a decision that tribal fishing communities downstream blamed for killing 68,000 salmon in the fall of 2002.

And now the region is once again fighting about water rights. According to news sources, in late April, Judge William Orrick, siding with Indian tribes and commercial fishermen, ruled that a significant share of water that farmers needed for their spring planting is going downstream to aid troubled fish populations. A few days later, the farmer-run Klamath Irrigation District, in a letter from their attorney, told the federal government that it planned to open the gates on a government-owned canal in southern Oregon. That would allow Klamath water to flow onto onion, potato and wheat fields in time for planting season.

The district operates the gates under a contract with the federal government. It considers the water “the private property of Klamath irrigators,” according to the letter, which was first reported by the Herald and News of Klamath Falls, Ore. So far, the farmers haven’t followed through on their threat. Federal officials have been working furiously in the past week to keep the peace on the Klamath and avoid a repeat of 2001.

Even watering the crops and curating the fish populations can end in disputes because we just don’t seem to see things exactly the same way.  Disputes are everywhere and when they impact YOUR business (especially landlord/tenant matters, contract issues or even collections), call on the always fully irrigated litigator, Dean Sperling who will work to resolve YOUR matter with your best interests in mind!
More on the case:
Can an uneasy truce hold off another water rebellion on California’s northern border?