Oregon Supreme Court will hear Klamath water issues

PORTLAND — The Oregon Supreme Court has agreed to decide questions of state law in a federal lawsuit over water rights in the Klamath Falls area.

Farmers and ranchers say they have a right to irrigation water that the federal government has appropriated to ensure the survival of endangered or threatened fish.

The lawsuit was filed after the government blocked access to irrigation water during a 2001 drought.

The federal government claims it appropriated all the available water in the Klamath Basin in 1905 under the federal Reclamation Act of 1902.

A federal appeals court asked the Oregon Supreme Court to decide whether state law grants any water rights to farmers and ranchers. The Oregon court agreed today to hear the case.

— The Associated Press

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