Water Takings, Part Two

E. Werner Reschke

Water Takings, Part Two

This past week a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco unilaterally decided that immediate action must be taken in order to save Klamath River salmon from the C. shasta virus. This action requires a “flushing” of the Klamath river that will require withholding more than 100,000 acre-feet of water from the irrigation districts that rely on water for agriculture in the Klamath Basin. 

Ironically, at the same time, in Washington D.C. the “Water Takings” case is being heard in Federal court. That case is to remedy the error of a 2001 court decision when bad science persuaded a judge to shut off water to Klamath project irrigators. 

Whether irrigators win their case in D.C. is yet to be determined, but the saying “too little, too late” comes to mind. The 2001 court decision caused irreparable harm to many families in the Klamath basin. Without water, crops withered in barren fields and generational farmers went bankrupt. My hope is for some financial compensation to be awarded to those who were wronged.

The 2001 case is exactly why we do not want water policy decided by the Judicial Branch. Yet here we are again, 15 years later, with what may be called Water Takings, Part Two. Not only is the Judicial Branch unaccountable to the people, its focus should be to interpret law, not make new law or set public policy. 

The science behind the claims of the plaintiff in last week’s decision are already being questioned by both the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Services, as well as Klamath Basin irrigators. Moreover, this decision is subject to appeal. During a wet winter of above average precipitation, this decision of flushing water instead of storing extra water, is certainly foolish — all because one judge said so based on suspect science. That my friends is not the American way.

Running a farm or ranch is difficult enough. The last thing we need is to unwisely use God given natural resources, especially when it comes to water in a desert.

This court decision is a step in the wrong decision.

Your LIBERTY First,


Capitol Phone: 503-986-1456
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-377, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.EWernerReschke@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/reschke