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Farmers Sue U.S. Over Irrigation Losses

by Jonathan Brinckman
The Oregonian, October 12, 2001

Klamath Basin farmers on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., claiming that the federal government owes them compensation for cutting off their irrigation water this year.

The plaintiffs, who include individual farmers, businesses and the Tulelake Irrigation District, say the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's April 6 decision to shut off the water was an unconstitutional taking of private property.

James L. Moore, a plaintiff and acting executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association, said the legal action was necessary to allow farmers to begin preparing for the 2002 growing season. The association represents more than 1,000 farms served by the Klamath Project irrigation system.

The federal lawsuit came a day after the association's board voted to drop a separate lawsuit demanding that the Bureau of Reclamation restore water deliveries. The association dropped that case because the irrigation season is over and additional water would now be of no use, Moore said.

The withdrawal casts doubt on the future of a mediation effort established under the earlier lawsuit. Moore said the water users association had not decided whether to continue with the court-ordered mediation.

The mediation was created after Judge Ann Aiken ruled against the farmers' contention that the Bureau of Reclamation had failed to follow environmental laws in shutting off the water. Participants, including tribes, the states of Oregon and California, fishermen, farmers and conservationists, have met several times under the direction of U.S. District Judge Thomas Coffin in Eugene. -- Jonathan Brinckman

Jonathan Brinckman
Farmers Sue U.S. Over Irrigation Losses
The Oregonian, October 12, 2001

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