Growth and Climate Change Program

Growth and Climate Change

Creative Commons / Credit: Eric Baetscher
Some areas in Oregon are among the ten fastest growing regions in the nation according to the recent census. Water developers are relying on growth to justify:

  • demands for more water from our rivers and aquifers;
  • new water storage projects across Oregon;
  • elimination of existing fish protection and instream flow standards;
  • large investments of public funds in projects that benefit small numbers of people; and
  • greater municipal and private control of the publics’ waters.

Read more about the relationship between climate change concerns and water storage practices: “New dam proposals restart 1970s-era fights”

The anticipated effects of climate change only add to the arms race mentality surrounding new water storage proposals.

While there are local instances where growth and new water demands are linked, no immutable relationship exists between growth and increased demand for water. On the contrary, growth can actually contribute to reduced water demand if aggressive water conservation measures accompany population growth.

To minimize the impacts of growth and climate change on our rivers, WaterWatch:

  • Promotes water conservation as an untapped source of water supply;
  • Exposes water demand myths used to justify harmful new water projects; and
  • Prevents water developers from using growth and climate change as excuses to warp water allocation laws or eliminate protections for rivers.

Ongoing Work

Integrated Water Resources Strategy

North Umpqua River

North Umpqua River

Thanks in large part to WaterWatch’s supporters, we’ve achieved a significant proactive step towards increasing river resiliency and adopting rational, science-based water policies with the creation of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy. After three years of meetings, open houses, advisory group input, and public comments, this Strategy – a roadmap for the state to meet Oregon’s water needs now and in the future – was officially adopted in August of 2012. The Strategy covers both instream and out-of-stream uses from surface water and groundwater.

Numerous instream protections are included in the Strategy and will have a co-equal priority in the future. What does this mean for Oregon’s rivers? Among other things, it will mean adoption of more instream water rights to protect water instream, designation of new scenic waterways across the state, better science to base water decisions upon, and better water management, including increased measurement of water use.

A balanced Strategy would not have been possible without active public support and advocacy during its creation. Numerous public comments backing strong instream protections made clear to the state that Oregonians care about our rivers and streams. Before this effort, Oregon was one of only two Western states without a comprehensive water plan.

Those who love and enjoy Oregon’s spectacular rivers should continue to demand benefits from the Strategy’s crucial protections as we continue to navigate the impacts of climate change for decades to come.

Take Action!

Keep up with the latest developments on the Rogue at our Updates page, and lend your voice in support by signing up for RiverAction!

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