KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Rep. Greg Walden, (R) Hood River, says it's going to be a rough water year in the Klamath Basin. He held a press conference Friday to discuss his plans for short-term and long-term solutions.
"It's important to understand that we are working to make sure there's emergency assistance with funding for the basin going forward, and that Sen. Wyden, Sen. Merkley and our staffs are in regular communication on this to get it in the bill that could likely come to the house floor next week," Walden said.
Long-time farmer George Rajnus said this water year will affect everybody from the bottom to the top and there's a lot of uncertainty right now.
"We can't make our plans for the crops that we need to be doing a month ago," Rajnus said.
Long-time farmer Rob Unruh said even financial help won't be the same as growing crops.
"It's great to have it, we need it, but crops are what make this community work," Unruh said.
Walden said the bill that would include the funding would likely be passed by March 23.
As for a long-term solution, he said he'll be working closely with the Department of the Interior. He said reaching a water agreement is attainable.
"We know we have tribal interests, we know we have farm interests, we know we have fish interests. We know this is a big issue to try and resolve it. Various people over various times have tried to come up with a solution that could pass, but it has escaped us," Walden said.
He said Alan Mikkelsen, a senior advisor to Sec. Zinke, will be making regular trips out to the basin to help research a long-term solution.
"He's been involved in these sorts of things around the country, knows how tough it is, tells people how it is and what's realistic and what's not," Walden said.
He also said Mikkelsen has already made six trips out to the Klamath Basin the last eight months.
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