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Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy

August 25, 2010

In 2009, the Oregon legislature passed a bill (HB 3369) directing the Water Resources Department (WRD) to develop and implement a state-wide strategy to help Oregon meet its future water needs, integrating concerns of water quantity, water quality, and ecosystem functions.  WRD released a Preliminary 2009-2012 Work Plan on June 3, 2010.  As explained in this Work Plan, the end goal of the effort during 2009 to 2012 is development of a product that outlines the information/data, planning, public policy, statute/rule, funding, and outreach/education components needed to understand and meet Oregon’s water resource needs.  The Work Plan describes how various state agencies are involved and how the public can learn more and provide input into this process. 

On July 13, 2010, the Agency Advisory Group, a group of 15 Oregon agencies representing the interests of natural resources and economic development, released a report for the Policy Advisory Group’s consideration.  This report summarizes the Agency Advisory Group’s planning efforts and documents strategies that drive economic development and natural resource management.  In this report, the agencies describe what they believe to be the key issues that should be addressed by or further analyzed in development of the Strategy.    

Issues identified in the Agency Advisory Group’s report and in general comments regarding the Strategy include: 

  • the need for data to better coordinate long-range plans and water development;
  • whether exempt wells should be brought into the permitting process;
  • how to regulate non-point source pollution (e.g., agricultural runoff);
  • utilizing micro-hydropower projects along irrigation systems;
  • whether measuring devices should be required for all diversions;
  • and whether peak and ecological flows should be required before allowing new water storage projects.

 

Whatever policy is ultimately adopted, it will affect Oregon’s agricultural producers.  Producers should take advantage of opportunities to provide input during the development of the Strategy.  We will post additional information as it is developed and as more specific issues are addressed.  You may also wish to learn more on the WRD website and at the open houses that will be held in 2011 to allow the public an opportunity to review and comment on the Strategy as it nears adoption.  You can also provide input through the survey on WRD’s website or by submitting comments on the Work Plan by email to: waterstrategy@wrd.state.or.us.

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