Oregon’s Second District Congress member Greg Walden says he believes stakeholders in the Klamath Basin can come together again to negotiate a comprehensive solution to the region’s water wars.
After Governor Kate Brown declared a drought emergency in Klamath County last week, Walden told JPR he was working with Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to get federal funds to provide emergency relief to growers who could lose access to irrigation water.
"I’ve secured commitment from the House side at the Speaker’s level in the package, and I think we’re in pretty good shape in the Senate, as well," he said.
The Oregon part of the Klamath Basin is in Walden’s district.
Walden also expressed optimism that – after a painfully hammered-out water-sharing agreement failed to get Congressional support two years ago – a new approach could be found.
"Ron and I are certainly committed to that," he said. "We’ve talked a lot about it, out teams are talking, as we are with Senator Merkley. We’d like to get a resolution here that’s durable, that’s fair and that can pass in the Congress."
Walden didn’t have a clear picture of what such an agreement would look like. And at a public meeting in Klamath Falls last week, representatives of a number of stakeholder groups expressed uncertainty about how to go about forging a new pact from scratch.