Recent Press Releases
Oregon Water Resources Commission Upholds Order Against McKenzie River Water Speculators, June 4, 2014
The Oregon Water Resources Commission has upheld a final order denying the Willamette Water Company’s controversial application for a permit to withdraw 22 million gallons of water per day from the McKenzie River. The Commission’s decision affirms an Oregon Water Resources Department decision issued in March 2014 and the ruling of an administrative law judge in 2012 that the permit application be denied. WaterWatch sparked the review process by protesting the permit application in March of 2010.
Statement on Oregon Supreme Court Opinion in Noble v. ODFW, May 15, 2014
In a decision critical to native migratory fish across Oregon, the Oregon Supreme Court reaffirmed the importance of fish passage at dams across the state. The court’s decision in the case of Noble v. Department of Fish and Wildlife clarifies the conditions under which dams must include adequate fish passage.
Report Charts Path to More Secure Water Supply for Klamath Refuges, May 5, 2014
WaterWatch released a detailed report providing analysis of several legal options available to secure significantly improved water supplies for Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges. In recent years, both of these Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have suffered chronic water shortages and catastrophic waterfowl disease outbreaks, sparked by lack of water. If implemented, the report recommendations could prevent future bird die-offs and restore essential wildlife habitat.
Klamath Advocates Go To Court Over Wildlife Mismanagement, April 24, 2014
WaterWatch and conservation allies ask federal court to require U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to obey the law, complete long-overdue Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Statement Regarding Signing of a Klamath Basin Water Agreement April 18, 2014
Although any amount of permanent water demand reduction is a welcome step in the right direction for the Klamath Basin, the claims that the agreement signed today will alone resolve the region’s water wars are simply false. Moreover, joining this water pact with the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) would wipe out its purported gains.
Statement Opposing Measure 26-156 April 1, 2014
As an organization that has worked since 1985 to protect and restore flows in Oregon’s rivers to sustain the native fish, wildlife, and people who depend on healthy rivers, WaterWatch of Oregon strongly opposes Measure 26-156.
Oregon Water Resources Department Denies Water Permit to Willamette Water Company
March 10, 2014
In a victory for the McKenzie River and WaterWatch, the Oregon Water Resources Department issued a final order denying the Willamette Water Company’s controversial application for a permit to withdraw 34 cubic feet per second (22 million gallons per day) from the McKenzie. The state’s decision follows the recommendation issued by an administrative law judge in April of 2012.
Statement Regarding Announcement of a Klamath Basin Water Agreement
March 5, 2014
WaterWatch encourages and supports the continued progress of negotiations between The Klamath Tribes and off-Project irrigators regarding upper basin water issues. However, it is clear that the amount of water demand reduction identified in the agreement announced today will provide only a fraction of the water necessary to achieve a sustainable level of farm and fisheries production in the severely over-allocated Klamath Basin.
Recent Press Clips
Judge: Water for Klamath salmon legal — this time, Times-Standard and Associated Press, October 1, 2014
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a federal water agency did not violate the law when it made special reservoir releases last year to help salmon in the Klamath River survive the drought, rather than save the water for farms.
Feds release emergency water to Trinity, lower Klamath rivers after deadly parasite found in fish, Times-Standard, September 16, 2014
After several fish on the Lower Klamath River were confirmed on Monday to have contracted the deadly ich parasite that previously caused the massive fish die-off in 2002, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released emergency flows this morning to the Trinity and Klamath rivers to prevent further spread.
Klamath bull trout in need of the most help, Herald & News, September 13, 2014
A new draft recovery plan for threatened bull trout calls for less focus on population benchmarks and more focus on habitat restoration. Local wildlife officials say restoring bull trout in the Klamath Recovery Unit will require every resource available.
Court petition halts district water shutoff, Herald & News, September 6, 2014
Owners of a Klamath Project diversion canal, who were ordered to cease water deliveries, have filed a petition against the state and are still drawing irrigation water off the Klamath River.
Rescue in the refuge, Herald & News, September 2, 2014
Waterfowl at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge are suffering from another avian botulism outbreak amid the Basin’s second consecutive year of drought.
Gold Hill Irrigation District Pipeline Project Underway, KTVL-TV, August 25, 2014
Crews are working to place a pipeline underground to replace nearly a century old technology. Water Watch, a non-profit organization, teamed up with the irrigation district to help get the river diversion up to state and federal standards.
Klamath River salmon to get fresh water after tribes pressure Bureau of Reclamation, Associated Press, August 22, 2014
A federal agency has decided to boost releases of cool clean water into Northern California’s Klamath River to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of adult salmon dead.
Those without senior water rights left high and dry, Mail Tribune, August 17, 2014
Landowners along small streams like Evans Creek are getting their irrigation water shut off based on Oregon’s water-rights law.
Basin water allocation tightens, Herald & News, August 6, 2014
The intense, but brief, rain events during recent thunderstorms have done little to improve the Klamath Basin’s water outlook.
Diseased fish found in Klamath River, Herald & News, August 5, 2014
More than three-quarters of juvenile chinook salmon recently surveyed in the Klamath River are diseased, according to a report by the California-Nevada Fish Health Center.
Klamath salmon get more water only if die-off starts, Associated Press, July 31, 2014
A federal agency said Wednesday it will release extra water into Northern California’s Klamath and Trinity rivers once salmon start dying from drought-related disease, but not before. That will be too late for fish in the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
Proposed water rule targets Klamath County, KOBI-TV, July 31, 2014
A rule proposed by the state could place big limitations on the use of water wells serving Klamath Falls during a drought, and the rule would only apply to Klamath County.
Sen. Ron Wyden tries new legislative route for stalled Oregon timber, Klamath Basin bills, Oregonian, July 31, 2014
Sen. Ron Wyden announced a new legislative gambit Thursday aimed at unsticking two controversial Oregon bills — dealing with timber levels in western Oregon and water issues in the Klamath Basin — that have languished in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Drought Takes A Toll On Salmon, Herald & News, July 30, 2014
The effects of drought are trickling down to Klamath Basin fisheries. A recent survey of 90 miles of the Salmon River found 55 dead adult salmon and about 300 dead juveniles, according to Sara Borok, an environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Mining foes speak, The Triplicate, June 30, 2014
The Oregon Water Resources Department is accepting public comment until July 8 on an application to use surface water for exploratory drilling in the North Fork Smith River watershed with the intent of operating a strip mine for nickel and other metals.
Not Much Refuge In Klamath Basin For Migratory Birds, OPB, June 10, 2014
The nation’s original waterfowl refuge may be too dry this year to provide much hospitality for migratory birds arriving in the Klamath Basin.
A Thirst for Water: Salmon, steelhead struggle for life in Bear Creek, Mail Tribune, June 8, 2014
A combination of severe drought and early irrigation withdrawals has the Rogue Basin’s Bear Creek running at one-fifth its normal flow in downtown Medford, trapping thousands of young salmon and steelhead in a stretch that is too warm and oxygen-depleted for their survival.
Stakeholders tout Klamath basin deal, Bulletin, June 4, 2014
While water-saving efforts within the deal hope to increase the flow of water into the Upper Klamath Lake by 30,000 acre-feet, other provisions promise an additional 91,000 acre-feet to the Klamath Project and another 41,000 acre-feet for wildlife refuges farther downstream, said Jim McCarthy, a spokesman for WaterWatch of Oregon.
Senators introduce Klamath Basin agreement bill, Bend Bulletin, May 22, 2014
By prioritizing diversions of water to various parties to the agreement over the amount of water needed by fish under the best available science, the legislation could have a devastating effect on coastal fisheries.
Basin water bill goes before Senate, Herald & News, May 22, 2014
Unfortunately, as a combined package, the agreements’ claims of overall water demand and cost reduction don’t bear up to basic scrutiny. The 2010 agreements do not allocate enough water to prevent bird die-offs in Basin national wildlife refuges or fish die-offs in the Klamath River.
Elk Creek lands will open as park, Mail Tribune, May 14, 2014
After decades of advocacy by WaterWatch and other groups, the Rogue Basin’s Elk Creek Dam was notched to benefit salmon and steelhead. The Elk Creek lands will now become a park with swimming holes and seven miles of trails. Learn more about our work to Free the Rogue from obsolete, harmful, and unecessary dams.
To prevent another Formosa disaster, block new nickel mines, Mail Tribune Guest Opinion, May 13, 2014
Foreign and American companies have applied for Forest Service approval that would lead to nickel strip mines — likely far more widespread and troublesome than the Formosa site — at pristine tributaries flowing into several of the most valuable rivers in the West.
A Look at Local Climate Change, KGW News, May 6, 2014
Executive Director John DeVoe discusses local climate change impacts for Oregon rivers, salmon, and steelhead with KGW News.
Lack of bird refuges plan spurs lawsuit, Herald & News, April 25, 2014
Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon Wild and WaterWatch of Oregon file suit to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Klamath Basin CCP is 18 months past deadline.
Two groups weigh in against accord, Herald & News, April 19, 2014
WaterWatch and Hoopa Valley Tribe express opposition to linking the newly-signed Upper Klamath Basin water pact with the costly and controversial Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.
Say ‘No’ on water district measure: Editorial endorsement, The Oregonian Editorial Board, April 12, 2014
Ballot Measure 26-156 falls short in too many ways, and poses accountability riddles of its own, to do any good – indeed, it could bring harm. Voters should reject it. The projects it cites as proof of runaway spending are appalling for their symbolic value but in reality play only a bit part in driving rates up. The measure is the wrong solution to a City Hall problem only now finding definition.
As Portland’s largest water users bankroll utility district campaign, opponents question who benefits, Oregonian, March 28, 2014
The biggest user of water in Portland is also the largest financial backer of a May ballot measure to strip utility rate-setting responsibility from the Portland City Council.
EPA introduces stream and wetlands rule, Bend Bulletin, March 26, 2014
WaterWatch hails EPA announcement as welcome news for Oregon’s small streams, which are important for fish, wildlife and people.
Protecting the McKenzie, Eugene Register Guard Editorial, March 18, 2014
The Willamette Water Co.’s application was not in the best interests of the McKenzie River. Nor was it in the best interest of the many Oregonians who love, use and are determined to protect one of the state’s most iconic waterways.
State rejects water rights bid, Register-Guard, March 15, 2014
Capping a McKenzie River water rights dispute that has dragged on for more than five years, the State Water Resources Department formally has rejected a Lane County company’s effort to secure rights to a big portion of the river’s flow.
Bend begins water project, Bend Bulletin, March 14, 2014
The contractor, M.A. Mortenson Construction, has been preparing to begin construction since mid-February. Meanwhile, the project is still in litigation. Central Oregon LandWatch and WaterWatch of Oregon filed a federal lawsuit in November against the U.S. Forest Service, which issued a permit for the project. A federal judge has not reached a decision on the lawsuit.
Controversial McKenzie Water Permit Denied, Eugene Weekly, March 13, 2014
Though speculating on water is illegal, WaterWatch of Oregon says Willamette Water Company was looking to do just that back in 2008 when it applied for a permit to withdraw 22 million gallons per day from the McKenzie River. On March 7, the Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD) issued a final order denying the Willamette Water Co.’s controversial application to control a large amount of the McKenzie’s water.
State Denies McKenzie River Water Rights Application, KLCC, March 11, 2014
The Veneta-based Willamette Water Company applied for rights to 34 cfs – or about 22 million gallons per day – from the McKenzie River. In 2012, after a challenge from conservation group Water Watch of Oregon, an administrative law judge ruled the permit should be turned down because the company had not identified immediate customers for the water. The Oregon Water Resources Department agreed with that ruling late last week.
Klamath Tribes And Ranchers Seek Water Solutions In New Agreement, OPB, March 5, 2014
WaterWatch warns the agreement doesn’t go far enough in limiting the amount of water that people will want to withdraw — water that others want to remain in streams to help fish and wildlife.
Groups seek to remove old dams on Evans Creek, Mail Tribune, March 2, 2014
Two of Oregon’s worst wild fish barriers could be removed from Evans Creek as early as the summer of 2015 under a WaterWatch-led plan to open as much as 70 miles of prime spawning habitat.
Giving nature a jolt, Herald & News, March 2, 2014
Endangered Lost River and shortnose sucker may experience a boost in populations after two hydroelectric facilities on the Link River are decommissioned this month.
Bend water project foes won’t appeal ruling, KTVZ, February 14, 2014
Opponents of Bend’s planned $23 million water pipeline replacement project said Saturday they won’t appeal a federal judge’s ruling allowing the work to start, and instead will prepare for a later court hearing, focusing on their objections to the rest of the project at the city’s water-intake facility by Bridge Creek.
Second fish due for removal from endangered list, Associated Press, February 13, 2014
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Modoc sucker no longer is in danger of extinction after nearly 30 years of recovery efforts.
In My View: The city is the cause of its own mistakes, Bend Bulletin, January 25, 2014
Attorney and Central Oregon LandWatch board member Charlie Ringo argues that the City of Bend should follow the law and not spend substantial sums of money on water projects before it gets the necessary approvals.
Parties To Negotiate Future of Bend’s Water, OPB, January 23, 2014
During a hearing on Thursday at U.S. District Court in Eugene, parties involved in a fight over the future of Bend’s water supply announced that they have agreed to enter settlement talks.
After the Flood, Earth Island Journal, Winter 2014
Dams across the United States are being decommissioned and rivers restored to their natural flow. As scientists are learning, tearing down the barriers is just the first step in returning a river to health.
Pipe opponents fire back in Bend surface water suit, Bend Bulletin, January 15, 2014
Environmental groups opposed to Bend’s proposed surface water improvement project argue the city is attempting “to create a crisis where there is none” in a response filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene Monday.
Cottage Grove considers appeal, Register-Guard, January 14, 2014
If the city moves forward and appeals to the Oregon Supreme Court, it will be fighting a ruling sought by the Portland advocacy group WaterWatch that limits the Cottage Grove municipal water system to drawing 2 million gallons of water per day from the Row River.
Water fallout in Upper Basin, Herald & News, January 7, 2014
Last week, the Klamath County tax collector’s office sent out refunds to 115,288 acres worth of county landowners who had their water shut off in 2013 after the Klamath Tribes and Klamath Project irrigators made calls for water.