For those living in the Klamath Basin, math has changed a bit. If you asked a local what “2+2 equals”, they would tell you “4” . If you asked someone what “4+4 equals”, they would say “8”. And if you asked them what “KBRA equals” they would reply, "Jobs."
Really? KBRA = Jobs? That's the answer?
Hmmm. Let's review the back-work to this equation to make sure there aren't any mistakes.
First of all, whose jobs are we talking about? The main thrust is farmers — that's why you see the signs in rural Klamath county and not in Klamath Falls neighborhoods. The KBRA is to provide predictable water supplies to farmers — in all types of water years — so that farmers can make correct business decisions in order to survive. For those unfamiliar with farming, it's not like farmers can take a year off if there isn't enough water. That would be like living a year without any income. A pretty tall task for most of us. As with any business, the predictability of important resources is an important component to survival. So predictability is really what KBRA promises.
Second, how does the KBRA guarantee water to farmers in all types of water years? The KBRA “guarantees” water to farmers by trading away private forrest land to Tribes and by removing dams to supposedly improve fish habitat for fishermen downstream. But wait? In this scenario the farmers are giving up something they don't own. What they are trading belongs to someone else. This is like if I traded free Friday night dinners at a restaurant and a Mercedes owned by someone else in exchange for a new fishing boat. Why do I get to trade away things that don't belong to me to receive something I want?
Finally, if you read the KBRA carefully (which is a task in itself), you'll learn that farmers are fourth in line on the water list. Tribes, the environment and fish rank above farmers is low water years. Wait, I thought KBRA guaranteed water to farmers? It does, but after all the water requirements are first met for others. Hopefully there's enough water left.
In summary, the KBRA let's farmers trade away things that don't belong to them in order to get guaranteed water rights — but they are last in line. The more I think about this “deal” the worse it gets for the producers in our basin. KBRA proponents say it isn't perfect, but not to let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.” That’s well and fine if the KBRA was good for farmers and others “uninvolved” in the basin, but it's not. The KBRA is a political, horse-trading deal that solves nothing except that it takes away the rights of farmers to get the water they need to farm in low water years. This is not the spirit of those who settled this land, and shouldn't be our way out of a problem. We can do better. Let's find a better way.