KWUA Signs Agreement for Collaboration in Environmental Restoration

Water Users sign MOU with Tribes, and Dept. of Interior to streamline and prioritize restoration projects in the Klamath Basin  

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – In the spirit of collaboration and mutual support, Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Klamath Tribes, the Yurok Tribes, the Karuk Tribes (Tribes), and the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) to further the common goals of achieving sustainability and resilience for the Klamath Basin. 

The MOU sets out a plan to identify and seek funding for restoration projects and other efforts to improve water quality, stability and reliability.

“The next few years will be critical to securing funding and completing restoration efforts in the Klamath Basin, so this agreement will help us work together and streamline the various interests and objectives we all have,”

explained Tracey Liskey, President of the KWUA Board of Directors. 

There are many laws and initiatives at the state and federal levels, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, that have created sources of significant funding for restoration activities and efforts to address water supply challenges.

To leverage these resources, all participants agree to meet within the next 30-days to identify restoration projects that can be started and finished within two years using existing federal or state funding. Then within 60-days, the group will send to the Departments of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture a joint letter identifying the prioritized projects.

“By agreeing to common objectives and shared goals for the Klamath Basin restoration, we can move forward together — as a unified front — to secure critical funding needed for our region,” said Paul Simmons, Executive Director of KWUA. “This cohesiveness creates a better chance for our projects to catch eyes at the federal and state levels and receive funding.”

“This is a great announcement and a sign that the work put in over the last couple of years was worthwhile,” stated Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot. “Tribes and irrigators coming together to find solutions for the Klamath Basin that moves all of our communities and local economies on a path toward long term stability. Congratulations and a huge thank you to everyone that stuck it out and put the work in.” 

Through the MOU, Interior leadership has agreed to identify potential sources of funding for the priority projects and work with relevant agencies at the state and federal levels to secure additional funding and streamline review and permitting processes for the projects.

Once the initial short-term priority projects are identified and submitted to the federal agencies, all participants agree to follow the same process to prioritize longer-term projects that could be started and/or completed over the next three to five years.

“I am hoping that this MOU will be the first step to bring all the different entities together to work on a solution to the conflicts over water, that have hampered this region for decades,” added President Liskey. “The water users want fish in our rivers and lakes and water in our irrigation ditches. This way, we all can have a prosperous way of life in the basin.”

The KWUA Board of Directors voted in December to approve the MOU, which was signed by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on Jan. 29. 

Press Release Source: Klamath Water Users Association
Cover Photo Image: by Kara Skye from Pixabay

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