The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement embodies one of the great experiments in collaborative watershed management under contested conditions, with a complex web of sometimes conflicting interests among agriculture, indigenous communities, fisheries, environmental flows, and power production. It also demonstrates one of the great risks in collaborative water management in the arid West: everyone has to give up something, and there is always a risk that politicians pandering to any one faction can gain traction and sabotage the deal. The incentives of local politics pose huge risks.
Ben Duval, a farmer who clearly has some heartburn about the compromises required but supports the KBRA, makes that case eloquently in op ed this weekend:
The KBRA and the related Klamath Settlement Agreements are a product of simple reality — we don’t live in a bubble. Other viewpoints are part of the local, regional and national debate about water. We have to acknowledge the reality that the public sentiment places a high value on the environment, healthy fisheries and other ideals. There is no doubt they also appreciate the safe, stable, and affordable food supply that irrigated agriculture is so effective at providing. However, we cannot simply dismiss the other values that are important and also depend on our Klamath River.
Thanks to Michael Campana for the pointer.