Search Penny Hill Press

Friday, July 5, 2013

Klamath Basin Settlement Agreements: Issues in Brief

Charles V. Stern
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Harold F. Upton
Analyst in Natural Resources Policy

Cynthia Brougher
Legislative Attorney

Betsy A. Cody
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments. Drought conditions and a recent call for water by senior water rights holders have again brought these issues to the forefront.

In 2010, the Secretary of the Interior and the governors of Oregon and California, along with multiple interest groups, announced the result of multi-year negotiations in an effort to resolve long-standing issues in the basin: two interrelated agreements, supported by the federal government and signed by the two states and numerous other parties. These agreements, known as the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), together aim to provide for water deliveries to irrigators and wildlife refuges, fish habitat restoration, and numerous other related actions. Generally, the KBRA provides for actions intended to restore Klamath fisheries and for assurances for water deliveries to wildlife refuges and federal project irrigators under certain circumstances, among many other things. The KHSA lays out a process that could potentially lead to the removal of four privately owned dams on the Klamath River. This dam removal would be one of the largest and most complex projects of its kind ever undertaken.

Some parts of the Klamath Agreements are already being carried out under existing authorities. Studies to inform a Secretarial Determination on dam removal under the KHSA have been completed, and some restoration actions have already begun. However, new authorization from Congress is required in order for the most significant components of the agreements to be implemented. Other ongoing processes in the Klamath Basin, such as the recent water rights adjudication by the State of Oregon, may result in significant changes in water allocations in the basin with or without federal legislation to authorize the Klamath Agreements. However, these developments are related.

The Klamath Agreements were originally set to expire in 2012 if no authorizing legislation was enacted, but have been extended to 2014. Legislation in the 112
th Congress would have authorized the agreements, including hundreds of millions of dollars in federal actions under the KBRA and authorization for the Secretary of the Interior to make a “final” dam removal recommendation under the KHSA. No such legislation has been proposed in the 113th Congress.

Congressional consideration of the Klamath Agreements could include whether the federal government should act beyond its current activities in the Klamath Basin, the type of strategies proposed in the agreements and their cost, and the potential for the approach in the Klamath Basin to serve as precedent for the resolution of similar conflicts in other parts of the country.

Date of Report: June 18, 2013
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: R42158
Price: $29.95

To Order:

R42158.pdf   to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART


Phone 301-253-0881

For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.