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Klamath Water Use Preference

Background

During a special meeting on April 13, the Oregon Water Resources Commission approved temporary emergency rules granting a preference to water rights for human consumption use in Klamath County and water rights for stock water use in the Williamson River Basin within Klamath County.
 
The rules allow holders of water rights for human consumption uses in Klamath County and for stock water in the Williamson River Basin – that would otherwise be shutoff during regulation for a senior water right holder – to continue use of that water for those purposes provided that they meet certain requirements.  The rules are in effect through October 13, 2018, unless the Governor’s drought declaration is rescinded.
 
The Commission is authorized to grant a preference for these uses of water during a drought declaration by the Governor.  Governor Brown declared a drought emergency in Klamath County under Executive Order No. 18-02.  By law temporary rules cannot be in effect longer than 180 days and may not be extended; therefore, unless the Governor’s drought declaration is rescinded, the rules will be in effect through October 13, 2018. 
 
For more information on what water right holders must do to exercise the preference, see below.
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Human Consumption Water Use Preference

The Human Consumption water use preference only applies to water right holders in Klamath County using water for human consumption under a water right.  A water right allowing for human consumption may include, but is not limited to, water rights for municipal, commercial, industrial, quasi-municipal, and domestic uses.  Using water for human consumption includes the use of water for the purposes of drinking, cooking, and sanitation.  The option for a water right holder to exercise the human consumption preference only applies to a water right holder that is regulated by the watermaster in order to satisfy a senior water right. 
 
To exercise the human consumption preference the water right holder must:
  1. Provide a notice to the Watermaster on the form provided by the Department. Click here to download the form, or stop by the Klamath Watermaster’s Office.
  2. After providing notice, the water right holder may exercise the preference as directed by the watermaster, provided that the water right holder:
    • Uses the most efficient means of delivery available to divert the minimum amount necessary to meet human consumption water needs 
    • Curtail all other water uses unrelated to human consumption; and
    • Allow the watermaster access to confirm compliance.
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Stock Water Use Preference

The stock water preference applies only to the diversion or use of water under a water right within Klamath County in the Williamson River basin, including the Sprague River, Sycan River and all tributaries.  Exercise of the stock water preference is only needed when a water right holder is regulated by the watermaster in order to satisfy a senior water right.  The preference is not needed to exercise exempt uses (ORS 537.545 or ORS 537.541)
 
To exercise the preference:
  1. Provide notice to the watermaster on the form provided by the Department.  Click here to download the form, or stop by the Klamath Watermaster’s Office.
  2. After providing notice, the water right holder may exercise the preference as directed by the watermaster provided that:
    • Water diverted for stock water is limited to the amount appropriate for the specific number of stock it serves, not to exceed one-tenth of one cubic foot per second, equivalent to 45 gallons per minute, per thousand head of stock as measured at the surface water point of diversion or at the well.
    • The diversion of water under the stock water preference may not result in the depletion of a stream to less than 2 cubic feet per second.
    • The water right holder curtails all other water uses unrelated to stock water and allows the watermaster access to confirm compliance.
    • The water right holder records information on the number of days stock water is diverted, the diversion rate, and how many stock were served.
  3. Water right holders exercising the preference shall provide information on the number of days stock water is diverted, the diversion rate, and how many stock were served to the Department no later than December 1, 2018.  Click here for the reporting form.
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