WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, yesterday intorduced legislation to bring fairness to the state water adjudication process by halting the federal government's exemption from state fees and costs related to processing federal agency water claims.
Smith introduced "The Water Adjudication Fee Fairness Act," to reform a 1952 law that required Federal agencies to seek water rights through state court, but exempted them from costs associated with the adjudication. States struggling with long-standing water disputes face serious financial burdens resulting from claims filed during an adjudication process. The federal government's exemption unfairly forces farmers and ranchers to bear the high costs associated with settling water rights, while federal agencies bear none of the expense."
"In Oregon, seven federal agencies have filed almost 850 separate claims in the Klamath Adjudication. These claims alone will cost the State of Oregon almost $6 million to process and adjudicate. This greatly burdens the state, and clearly constitutes an unfunded mandate. My bill will stop this unfair practice and require the federal government to take some responsibility on the issue," Smith said.
"This is common sense. Farmers and ranchers pay thousands of dollars to settle their water claims while the federal government is completely exempt. We need to make sure federal agencies aren't given a free ride while farmers and ranchers are left holding the bag," Smith said.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District - which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon - in the U.S. House of Representatives.