No one should be surprised at the continued overreach of some Oregon state agencies. The expanding use of computer modeling to “prove” points that actual, on-the-ground science does not prove, was predictable.
The recent modeling study commissioned by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, ODEQ, regarding mercury contaminants in Oregon, reeks of future regulations. ODEQ is targeting farm and forest land as the guilty culprits that they can regulate. ODEQ claims that their modeling is the best science available. Does anyone really believe they would even give any other “science” a serious look?
Here is another case in point: The Oregon Water Resource Department, OWRD, has been regulating off many wells in the Klamath Basin for the last 5 years. Their computer model claims wells interfere with surface water, if the well is within one mile of any waterway. This year’s shutoffs include 2 wells for the city of Klamath Falls, all of Bly and all of Chiloquin. Also shut off are many wells used for irrigating crops, watering livestock and some homes that use spring water. Additionally, wells used for major businesses including Jeld-Wen, Running Y Ranch Resort and Harbor Links golf course were issued shutoff notices. Each year, the number of wells being shut off grows.
The one mile automatic interference criterion is especially disturbing. Some irrigators and cities are now drilling new wells that are just beyond the one mile “trigger.” Problem is, OWRD, when pressured, actually admitted that the one mile number could be expanded to 1½ miles or even farther. They say all it would take is an Administrative Rule, signed by Gov. Kate Brown. Gov. Brown has already signed other Administrative Rules that have been extremely damaging.
A number of these wells have been tested on-site, by very qualified geologists and hydrologists, disproving OWRD’s claims of interference. Modeling experts have also examined OWRD’s modeling.
In both of these modeling scenarios, you are automatically deemed guilty unless you prove your innocence. Not exactly what the Constitution says. The way OWRD modeling is framed, it is literally impossible to prove your innocence. OWRD even admitted that this is indeed the case.
Another common denominator for both these modeling scenarios is that even with heavy regulations by ODEQ and OWRD, there will be no real difference realized. But the monumental negative financial impacts and social stressors are staggering. Thousands of Oregon businesses and citizens will be denied their ability to survive in this openly hostile state governmental environment.
The Klamath water issues are not just a local problem. Many of us have testified in Salem numerous times warning of exactly what is happening now with this expansion of power. The Klamath Basin seems to be a disastrous test case that will certainly keep spreading. These state agencies are definitely expanding their heavy-handed powers and modeling is just a prime example. They plug the necessary numbers into their model to get the results they desire. Remember the old saying, especially relevant with this computer modeling, “Garbage in equals garbage out.”
Under Gov. Brown’s leadership, these agencies are increasing their assault on the lives of the citizens and a large swath of businesses in Oregon. Now Gov. Brown is introducing legislation that will adopt federal water and air regulations as Oregon law. As if we don’t already have enough regulations stifling business survival and individual citizens lives. Enough is enough! This has to stop! Maybe it is time to do an audit of these agencies and the Governor’s office.
Tom Mallams has been an irrigator in the Klamath Basin for the last 40 years, served as a Klamath County, Ore., commissioner and remains involved in numerous local and regional matters.