WASHINGTON DC - The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today passed legislation implementing water agreements in the Klamath Basin, moving the legislation one step closer to becoming law.
Giving the legislation further momentum, the bill – the Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act – was passed, including an amendment that brought bipartisan support. Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have spearheaded the effort to move the legislation forward, and Merkley negotiated across the aisle to bring Republicans as well as Democrats on board.
Merkley applauded the committee passage and vowed to push for quick floor action in the lame duck session in November and December.
“Folks in the Klamath Basin have come together to bridge longstanding differences and forge agreement on a better path forward,” said Merkley. “They’ve stuck together through several tough droughts and have focused on a vision of a stronger, more vibrant Klamath Basin. Now Congress must act. Today’s committee passage is great news, and I will do all I can to get this legislation to the President’s desk.”
The Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act authorizes the implementation of three Klamath Basin water agreements – the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), and the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The three agreements jointly envision a collaborative approach to natural resource management and economic and environmental restoration as the means of settling one of the West’s most contentious water wars. They settle decades of water rights disputes and other litigation over natural resources in the region and provide water for both farming and fishing.