WASHINGTON, DC – A final agreement on water management and dam removal in the Klamath River Basin in Oregon and California is “within reach” and should be completed by the end of summer, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today.
The Department of the Interior, the State of Oregon, the State of California and PacifiCorp have agreed to extend the deadline for a final agreement on the future of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project from June 30, 2009 to September 2009 to allow for the completion of settlement work that has been ongoing since the parties reached an Agreement in Principle in November 2008. The Agreement in Principle, which has since been joined by 22 other stakeholders, lays the parameters for an agreement which – if signed by the parties and ratified by Congress – would create a local solution that would rebuild the Klamath fishery and sustain agricultural communities who rely on the Klamath River for their livelihoods.
“I am pleased that the good faith efforts of the parties to reach common ground in decades-old water conflicts have put a final deal within reach,” Secretary Salazar said. “With one more push, and with the continued personal engagement of Governor Kulongoski, Governor Schwarzenegger and PacifiCorp President Greg Abel, we will have a final agreement by the end of the summer. This final stretch represents an historic opportunity for all parties to pursue their shared interests over the damaging water wars of the past.”
Govenor Kulongoski added, “I am pleased with the progress to transform the earlier Agreement in Principle with a fully developed final agreement. Under Secretary Salazar’s leadership, I am confident that our work on the agreement will be completed soon and will address all of the key issues and questions that have been raised about this historic undertaking.”
California Governor Schwarzenegger said, “Today’s announcement by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is not only a sure sign of our progress toward a final agreement, but it is also solid support of our collective efforts. Secretary Salazar understands very well the issues we face — our need for a reliable water supply, productive fisheries, and healthy habitats. His leadership will help us reach the goal we all seek, the largest dam removal project ever undertaken and full restoration of the Klamath Basin.”
“We want to thank Secretary Salazar for his support of the Klamath River Hydroelectric Project Settlement process and also for his clear leadership in helping resolve the longstanding and complex issues in the Basin,” PacifiCorp’s Greg Abel said.
“The passionate environmental and economic perspectives and diverse cultural heritage that embody the Klamath Basin present an immense challenge to reaching reasonable peace and compromise,” Abel continued.
“We remain committed to achieving the best possible balanced and pragmatic outcome for our customers on all sides of these diverse issues. Working together, we are close to a final settlement agreement, but there will be many more significant mile posts along the way. We ask for everyone’s patience as we move through this complex process” Abel concluded.
Stakeholders are negotiating the Klamath Hydropower Agreement in tandem with the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), which is an effort to find local solutions that would rebuild the Klamath fishery and sustain agricultural communities who rely on the Klamath River for their livelihoods.
“The Klamath Hydropower Agreement and the KBRA will be the pillars of a new, sustainable water future for the Klamath Basin,” said Secretary Salazar. “We must get the deals done, the agreements signed, and the work started.”
Under the proposed agreements, the Department of the Interior and its agencies including the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and U.S. Geological Survey, would be joined by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and state and local agencies to implement restoration measures.
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