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Basin Residents Dispute Water Rights

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KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — This morning many are standing their ground at the Klamath County Agricultural/Economic Impact Rally. Dozens are gathering to dispute the water rights surrounding the withstanding drought conditions the Klamath Basin is facing.

In mid-April, Governor Kitzhaber declared a drought for the county and following that came water regulations. The Sprague River, Williamson River, Wood River, Crooked Creek, Fort Creek and Sycan River are some of which that have seen the regulations. Farmers, ranchers and residents are frustrated with the water restrictions and/or cuts that may come in the coming months.

Taking a direct and significant impact is the Klamath Basin’s livestock, but also agriculture and natural resources. Klamath County is in the top 2% of the nation’s counties for livestock production. Among the impacts are livestock sales, full and part-time jobs and also land value losses. If the restrictions and cuts continue the way that they are, this could mean losses totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars and possibly millions.

These water shut offs could also impact visitors at Crater Lake National Park. The water used for things like meals and showers does not come from the Lake because it is protected. It comes from nearby streams and creeks, which are on the list for shutoff. Superintendent Craig Ackerman says the park will operate under an emergency conservation plan this summer. This means trucking in water, turning off campground showers and using portable toilets.