Water Law Meets Participatory Democracy: A Klamath Basin Example
The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (“KBRA”) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (“KHSA”) emerged in 2010 in response to ongoing ecosystem calamities in southwestern Oregon and northern California. Parties to the agreements include 45 organizations, including: federal agencies; the States of California and Oregon; PacifiCorp, the hydroelectric utility responsible for operation of dams on the Klamath River; the Karuk, Yurok, and Klamath Tribes; four counties in two states; irrigators and water districts; and conservation and fishing groups. These regional agreements were the result of decades of negotiation, litigation, and considerable citizen involvement. Substantively, the agreements call for the removal of four dams on the Klamath River and would implement basin-wide water management. Some consider the final versions atrocities that cater to narrow interests. Others believe that the agreements create a live framework for future resolution of tenacious water and land use problems.