KLAMATH WATER USERS ASSOCIATION ON
KLAMATH IRRIGATION DISTRICT ELECTION
April 8, 2022
Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) urges calm and understanding in response to KWUA member Klamath Irrigation District’s (KID) April 4 announcement of the results of an election by its patrons.
KID is a public agency governed by a board of directors. That board chose to solicit the input of district patrons on important issues. The majority of votes cast were supportive of KID pursuing “all available avenues which are legal, moral, and ethical” to deliver water to their patrons, despite the fact that doing so could result in patrons becoming ineligible for certain drought relief funds. (See attached voter information.) Voters did not advocate unlawful action, and the vote does not require the board of directors to take any specific action.
KWUA condemns any activity by anyone that threatens the safety of any person. Illegal actions, violence, and intimidation are not acceptable.
Farmers and ranchers work hard to produce food for people. “Farmer” is an identity and not simply a way to make a living. In recent years, there have been programs under which farmers and ranchers received compensation in exchange for agreeing not to irrigate for an entire year so as to reduce overall water demand. Presented with the choice to farm or idle their land, they want to farm. In these times, farmers and ranchers perceive that they are targets of derision and unfair policies. They are disappointed and mystified by the disconnect between global food security concerns and policies that deprive them of the water they want and need in order to produce food, provide for their families, and support rural communities.
To be sure, KID and the United States have differing views regarding the scope of federal discretion and authority over infrastructure that has been operated by KID for nearly 70 years. KWUA believes that KID’s position is sound, but only a judicial officer can resolve that question definitively. KWUA and KID have urged the United States to support a path that will lead to civil, judicial resolution of the dispute.
Today, a toxic atmosphere of distrust and division pervades the Klamath Basin. All Basin communities are important and have legitimate interests and serious needs. KWUA applauds leaders who have accepted the challenge of navigating difficult circumstances while pursuing a future that is sustainable for all communities and our magnificent environment. We owe a better and stable future to our children and grandchildren.
KWUA is a non-profit organization formed in 1953, whose members are irrigation districts and similar water delivery agencies that are party to contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation related to the diversion and delivery of irrigation water in the Klamath Project. KWUA members provide water to around 175,000 acres of land, including land with soils that are the envy of the world. KWUA member-operated infrastructure is also the sole source of water for Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge.