RiverAction: Defend the WRD Budget! – 4/2009
Prevent 30% cuts that could include positions that manage existing water rights and those developing the scientific information needed for sound surface and groundwater management, allocation and reallocation decisions.
Attend a Budget Hearing in Your Area & Support the Oregon Water Resource Department’s Budget
Due to a $3.1 to $4.4 billion budget shortfall, the Oregon Legislature has requested state agencies to submit proposed budgets with 30% cuts to the 2009-2011 essential budget level. The Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD) is faced with the possibility of cutting 45 of 140 staff positions.
The Joint Ways and Means Committee is holding a series of public hearings across Oregon to gather public input before releasing the draft budget. Please attend the hearing nearest you and emphasize the importance of funding the WRD for the sake of Oregon’s rivers.
What: Statewide Budget Hearings (all state agency budgets)
Lincoln City, April 20th
Portland, April 21st
Salem (Hood River via video link), April 23rd
Pendleton, April 25th
Ontario, April 25th
Bend, April 29th
Klamath Falls (informal)
Ashland, April 30th
Eugene, May 1st
– The base budget of the WRD should remain intact to the maximum extent possible
– Please retain the positions that manage existing water rights and those developing the scientific information needed for sound surface and groundwater management, allocation and reallocation decisions
– Our economy and environment require at least minimal water management capacity to address the challenges presented by the intersection of climate change, economic and population growth and the needs of aquatic habitat and aquatic species.
– To the extent the state is forced to make cuts, I urge the Committee to consider the retention of the 18 key water management, science, field service, regulatory and streamflow restoration positions, which do not have potential alternative funding (in order of priority):
1. Watermaster District 14 and the Northwest and Eastern Region Assistant Watermasters – three positions (positions of critical concern)
2. Ground Water Geologist and Ground Water Hydrogeologist – two positions (positions of critical concern)
3. The Oregon Plan Positions – four positions
4. The Water Availability Modeler position
5. The Salem and Northwest Region Measurement Technicians and four Hydrographic Water Measurement Technician positions (Eastern, Southwest, South Central, North Central) – six positions
6. The Water Use Reporting Staff Position
7. The Information Technology Processor Position
Thank you in advance for sharing your opinion with the Ways and Means Committee! Your opinion can really affect the budget outcome for WRD and make a huge difference for the future of Oregon’s rivers and streams.
The WRD is highly dependent on general funds. While there are also proposed cuts for the more traditional water right permitting and transfer positions listed in the talking points above, there are alternatives such as fee increases and reimbursement authorities that are available to help fund these positions. The management, science, field staff and information technology positions, on the other hand, are entirely dependent on the General Fund for funding. Department backers currently are circulating at least two bills that could generate additional funds for the department.
Senate Bill 740 seeks to establish a biennial fee of $100 for water-rights administration. The bill caps the amount any individual will be responsible to pay at $200. Irrigation districts and other larger entities would be capped at $1,200. If enacted, SB 740 could generate between $6 million and $8 million a biennium.