Conservation Victories

Conservation Victories

Significant water policy and river conservation victories resulting from WaterWatch’s work include:

  • Drafting and passing the Oregon Instream Water Rights Act. Today, this visionary law protects streamflows on approximately 1,400 river and stream reaches across Oregon
  • Leading the effort to remove outdated dams from the Rogue River Basin, one of the most extensive and successful dam removal campaigns in the nation. This campaign also converted 800 cfs of project water rights to instream water rights to protect streamflows in the Rogue forever
  • Stopping water speculators from profiting from the withdrawal of 34 cfs (22 million gallons per day) from the prized McKenzie River
  • Closing a loophole – created by the Oregon Water Resources Department – that had allowed municipal water permit holders to avoid important fish protection conditions mandated by a 2005 Oregon law
  • Convincing the state to adopt an Integrated Water Resources Strategy – a roadmap for the state to meet Oregon’s water needs now and in the future – that includes strong instream protections
  • Measuring diversions in the John Day River and identifying illegal use
  • Helping win a court order ensuring that many Oregon dams currently lacking or with inadequate fish passage are brought up to modern, more fish-friendly passage standards
  • Securing a critical fish protection standard to address the impacts of growth on our rivers
  • Establishing water policies that prohibit over-allocation of Oregon’s waterways and that require water measurement for new water permits
  • Protecting the world-class lower Deschutes River and its tributaries from the effects of new groundwater pumping and dam operations
  • Protecting the Sandy River for future generations by transferring water instream at Marmot Dam
  • Ending illegal water deliveries in the Umatilla Basin
  • Negotiating to protect 22,000 acres of upland habitat, providing $1,250,000 for the Oregon Water Trust to acquire water rights and reducing a proposed diversion by 1,000 cfs from the Columbia River
  • Reaching agreement with Umatilla Basin irrigators on instream flow rights for salmon
  • Convincing the Bureau of Reclamation to shut off illegal water deliveries in the Umatilla Basin
  • Helping secure flows for bull trout and other listed species in the Walla Walla River
  • Securing water for threatened bald eagles in the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin
  • Successfully defending instream water rights in the Middle Fork Malheur River system
  • Establishing statewide policies for water conservation and instream flow protection that recognize the benefits of water remaining where it naturally occurs
  • Establishing water use measurement and reporting requirements for most water permits issued after 1993
  • Establishing a statewide policy prohibiting the over-allocation of Oregon’s rivers and streams
  • Establishing rules to protect Oregon’s troubled fish populations from harm due to new water diversions (“Sensitive Stock Rules”)
  • Establishing rules opening up the water permit extension process to consider environmental issues and allow public review
  • Measuring diversions in the Wood River in the Klamath Basin, identifying illegal use and obtaining improved water management that restored 30 cfs instream
  • Converting 600 cfs of water rights for the aging Marmot Dam complex on the Sandy River to instream water rights to protect flows on the river for future generations
  • Obtaining significant flow and enforcement improvements for the Lower Deschutes River through the Pelton Round Butte Hydro Complex relicensing settlement negotiations
  • Restoring water to the dewatered Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River and beginning the process to convert up to 640 cfs of project water rights to instream water rights through the PGE Clackamas Project relicensing settlement
  • Obtaining national media coverage of Klamath Basin water issues
  • Drafting and releasing several reports, including Refuges in Peril: Fish, Wildlife and the Klamath Water Crisis (with Earthjustice, Oregon Wild and The Wilderness Society) which documents the importance of the six National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin and the effects of the water crisis on these critical public lands as well as Legally Dry: How Oregon’s Water Laws Fail our Rivers and Rivers Without Water: Oregon’s Unnatural Disaster
  • Setting a precedent to protect streamflows on waterways designated under Oregon’s Scenic Waterway Act

WaterWatch has also served on the following:

  • The Clinton Administration’s Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission
  • The steering committees of the Western Water Alliance and the Oregon Conservation Network.

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