Oregon’s water law is — on one level — about who was first. So when there is not enough water for everyone to get their water right, people who have more senior water rights get first dibs.
They can make a “call” to receive water. Users with junior water rights get shut off until senior water rights are satisfied, as the issue was summed up for legislators.
The law now allows an automatic stay, enabling junior water right holders to prevent their water from being shut off. As the Capital Press described, that’s been an issue for the Klamath Tribes. When it has issued a call, by the time the litigation is resolved the irrigation season is over. Junior water rights holders have been able to get their water.
House Bill 2244 as amended would speed up the process of resolving the automatic stay in narrowly written circumstances.
This bill has been a debate about Oregon water law. So it does not satisfy everyone. For instance, some farmers are worried it may hurt their ability to irrigate. And it may, but it seems to be on track to pass the Legislature.