KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - Oregon's Water Resources Department today delivered what it calls "an historic document" to the Klamath County Circuit Court, completing the first phase of the ongoing process to determine senior water rights in the Klamath Basin.
According to the Klamath Falls Herald and News, the document's thousands of pages fill 11 stuffed binders and represent the next step in a process that began Dec. 23, 1975.
The agency's final order of determination was driven Wednesday night from its offices in Salem to the Klamath County Courthouse, setting in motion the final process for legally determining local water rights, the newspaper reported.
The most senior determined claims in the adjudication are those held by the federal government in trust for the Klamath Tribes, which carry a priority date of "time immemorial," according to a Water Resources Department news release.
The tribal claims were recognized for certain reaches of the major tributaries to Upper Klamath Lake and for the lake itself, the release states. Other tribal claims were denied for streams outside the boundaries of the former Klamath Indian Reservation, including the Klamath Tribes' claim for portions of the Klamath River, the agency explained.
The next step will allow people who dispute aspects of the document to bring their arguments to the court, the release states.
For more information, visit http://www.oregon.gov/owrd/Pages/adj/index.aspx .
-- Tim Hearden