Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Implementing the Klamath Agreements - a new KlamBlog series

~ Implementing the KBRA ~
~ A series of reports from KlamBlog ~ Researched and written by Felice Pace ~

~ Series Introduction ~

The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA or Water Deal) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA or Dam Deal) are done. Those who were going to sign have signed and those who were not going to sign have not signed. In the Klamath River Basin there has been a rearrangement of the “sides” in what has always been a zero sum water game with winners and losers.

Two streams now diverge. On the one hand promoters are pursuing federal legislation; on the other hand they are moving aggressively to implement those portions of the Deals which do not require legislation.

The Deals' promoters want federal legislation to provide liability protection and other benefits to PacifiCorp during dam removal, to bless the KBRA's scheme for managing water and restoration, and to provide taxpayer funding for irrigator and other subsidies. Prospects for federal legislation are almost always uncertain - especially when it includes costly and controversial Deals which require new spending in an era of record deficits.  Congress may decide to duck the controversy and the cost and leave it to the Obama Administration to implement the Deals it negotiated within existing authorities and budgets. Whatever it does, however, Congress is unlike to act before the Secretarial Determination (the decision on dam removal) is final.

The legislative dance will play out far from the Klamath River Basin and only a few Basin residents will play a part in it. Meanwhile the Federal Family – the federal agencies which supported, funded and participated in the deal-making – have quickly begun implementing many aspects of the Deals which do not require Congressional action.

This series will track, report on and analyze implementation of the KBRA, the Water Deal. It will not focus on the Dam Deal because that will get plenty of attention elsewhere. The Secretarial Determination and related EIS/EIR are well advertised and reported. KBRA implementation, on the other hand, has not been publicized and is not being reported.

To implement the KBRA, federal and state agencies, tribes and other promoters, have developed an ambitious work plan. The Federal Family, tribes and other KBRA promoters are eager to demonstrate that they are resolute in implementing the Water Deal and hope this will convince Congress to give them the power, control, subsidies and other benefits they seek.

Reporting on implementation of the KBRA will requires keeping tabs on the Klamath Basin Coordinating Committee (KBCC) – one of two governance committees called for in the KBRA. The work of the KBCC is not being publicized but one can follow the action on the web site of Ed Sheets – the contractor hired by the Department of Interior to facilitate the negotiations leading to the Deals. Mr. Sheets has apparently also been retained by Interior to facilitate KBRA implementation.

A federal charter is being prepared to establish the companion Klamath Basin Advisory Committee (KBAC) and Technical Advisory Team (TAT) also called for in the KBRA. One can view the draft KBAC and TAT federal charters on line.  The KBAC and TAT are intended to give official “advice” to federal bureaucrats on Klamath water management. For that reason they require federal administrative charters and public involvement.

Judging from the previous paragraph, it may prove difficult just to navigate the KBRA's acronyms but I'll do my best in the reports to serve as pilot. The plot will be harder to follow. But because the reports will be published on KlamBlog, readers can provide perspective as well.

The drama and experiment that has been playing out in the Klamath River Basin has entered a new phase. Those who crafted and believe in the KBRA have an opportunity to show the usefulness of their agreement - and of the relationships they've built with each other. This series will report on what hopes that both the actors in the drama, the other interests who have been excluded, and the other citizens of the Basin will be empowered to participate more effectively in the drama as it unfolds.

The Klamath Deals are part of a longer history which has played out in the West since white Europeans first conquered the region. Because control of water gives the ultimate control in the water-limited western US, western water history has been dominated by the struggle to determine if the federal government, the states or local interests – including tribes - will control water and thereby the West’s destiny.

The Water Deal is the latest Klamath chapter in that drama. This series will track its implementation


Coming next in the series:

Klamath Water Management 2010 - Evaluating claims and counterclaims

Implementing the Endangered Species Act in the post-Water Deal Era

In order to receive an e-mail message with each post in this new series send an e-mail message to and put “Subscribe - Implementing the Agreements” in the subject line.

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