RiverAction Alert: Reminder: Gresham Water Strategy Open House tomorrow! 3/30/10

RiverAction Alert: Reminder: Gresham Water Strategy Open House tomorrow! 3/30/10

Action alert to remind public about the first of ten Open Houses for the Oregon Integrated Water Resources Strategy.

Help Oregon’s Rivers! Weigh in on the State’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy!

Please attend tomorrow’s Open House in Gresham or submit electronic comments to waterstrategy[at]wrd.state.or.us:

Gresham Open House:

Date: Wednesday, March 31
Time: 4 pm to 7 pm
Location: Gresham City Hall, 1333 NW Eastman Parkway

To get the state’s flyer on the Gresham hearing, click here.

Ten more hearings will follow across the state over the next two months. For a full list of locations and dates, and background information on the Strategy, click here.

Background:

This is your chance to make your voice heard about how Oregon manages water! To help gather information about what is important to Oregonians, the Oregon Water Resources Department is holding open house hearings across the state regarding its development of an Integrated Water Resources Strategy. Written comments are also being received (see below for details).

The Integrated Water Resources Strategy will govern how Oregon meets both instream (fish and wildlife, recreation, and water quality) and out of stream (agricultural, municipal, and industrial) water needs in the future.

Please weigh in on the importance of protecting and restoring Oregon’s rivers and streams in this planning process! See below for a list of comments to consider including.


How to submit written comments

Email your written comments to:
Waterstrategy[at]wrd.state.or.us

 

Background information from the Oregon Water Resources Department

  • If you have any questions please feel free to contact WaterWatch at info[at]waterwatch.org.

 

Key points to consider making

1. Oregon rivers need more protection.

  • Urge the state to adopt instream water rights on all streams across the state. Over 1400 stream reaches in Oregon are protected by “instream water rights,” but hundreds of others are not.
  • Urge the state to protect peak and ecological flows before allowing new storage projects. In recent years Oregon has seen a land rush mentality with regard to building new water storage projects. These storage projects which would grab the last of Oregon’s unallocated winter water. Currently the state does not protect “peak and ecological flows” when issuing new storage permits. Urge the state to both identify peak and ecological flows needed by fish and rivers, and to protect those flows before allowing new storage.
  • Urge the state to protect more of Oregon’s beloved streams though scenic waterway designation. State scenic waterway designation protects rivers and streams from being drained dry and also from the building of new dams. The state has not issued any new scenic waterways in nearly two decades.

2. The state needs to better manage Oregon’s rivers. Oregon is lucky to have many good river and stream protection laws on the books. However, the state does not utilize these tools to the full advantage of Oregon’s waterways. Please urge the state to use its existing authorities to:

  • Require measurement of all diversions in the state. Unless the state knows how much water is being diverted, and when, it cannot adequately manage our water resources.
  • Require water use efficiency standards for municipal and irrigation uses. Oregon’s water rules call on the state to establish basin efficiency standards for water use, but the state has never done so. Oregon’s streams and rivers are already over-tapped; requiring efficient water use is one step to meeting new demand without putting further strain on our rivers.
  • Protect the groundwater resources that feed Oregon’s rivers and streams. The state should place a priority on the designation of new groundwater limited areas to help manage groundwater use in areas where groundwater declines are hurting water users and streams.
  • Urge the state to aggressively analyze demand forecasts for new water right permits. Municipal and other water right applicants often times apply for far more water than they could possibly use in a reasonable planning period. Urge the state to take a closer look at applications and stop issuing speculative water rights.

 3. Legal Reform is Needed. The Integrated Water Strategy offers a unique opportunity to move forward to better our state’s water laws. Please urge the state to:

  • Require permitting of “exempt wells” in groundwater limited areas and areas where groundwater feeds river flows. Currently exempt wells, even in areas where groundwater and river flow shortages are rampant, do not have to go through a permitting process or environmental review.
  • Require the state to do a “public interest review” of a transfer of a water right to ensure that when a water right holder is changing it’s place of use or type of use, that the state considers the effect of that change on Oregon’s rivers and fish.

Thank you for helping Oregon’s rivers!

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