Advocating for Reform at the State Capitol
Water law is primarily state law. WaterWatch works at the State Capitol to provide a voice for healthy rivers and sound water policies.
2013 Oregon Legislature
The 2013 legislative session kicked off on February 4th, and water issues are an important part of the agenda. Below are our top legislative priorities this year. Please show your support for these key initives to better protect Oregon’s rivers and streams!
SB 401: Safeguarding More of Oregon’s Most Beloved Waterways
Oregon’s State Scenic Waterway Act conserves the clean drinking water, wild salmon and steelhead, and scenic beauty that make our state such a special place, but this law currently covers only a tiny fraction of Oregon’s rivers and streams from degradation. SB 401 would expand these key protections to a small number of some of Oregon’s most beloved – and most threatened – waterways.
Specifically, the Scenic Waterway Act:
- Defines the highest and best uses of the waters within the Scenic Waterways for recreation, fish and wildlife.
- Protects designated waterways from the construction of dams and reservoirs, commercial placer mining, and suction dredge mining.
- Establishes responsible allocations for new water rights usage to ensure the natural free-flowing state of the waterway.
SB 401 would cover several of the most cherished stretches of river around the state, including portions of the Applegate River, Brice Creek, Briggs Creek, Cedar Creek, Chetco River, Cow Creek, Illinois River, Eagle Creek, Elk Creek, Grande Ronde River, Grave Creek, Josephine Creek, Little Applegate River, McKenzie River, Molalla River, North Fork Burnt River, Quartzville Creek, Rogue River, Rough and Ready Creek, South Umpqua River, Sandy River, Silver Creek, South Fork Alsea River, Sucker Creek and Yachats River. Altogether, these stretches represent just 0.25% of Oregon’s waterways.
Read the full text of SB 401 here.
SB 217: Fairer Cost Sharing for Oregon’s Water Right System
Water rights generally benefit private interests in Oregon, yet all state taxpayers pay the vast bulk of the costs for administering over 85,000 existing water rights under the Water Resources Department. For example, a new Oregon water right applicant only pays roughly 50% of the cost of processing their application, while the Oregon taxpayer pays the rest. After their initial application, each water right holder pays nothing for perpetual administration of their water right and the management of the water right system, while the Oregon taxpayer pays 100% of this cost. This funding situation has resulted in steadily decreasing Water Resources Department capacity even as the need for water planning and improved management steadily increases.
SB 217 would institute a modest annual fee of $100 per water right, charged to all customers holding water rights for industrial, agricultural, municipal, and instream purposes, with a maximum fee per customer cap of $1,000 for all but municipal customers. This fee would provide estimated annual net revenues of $12 million, funds that would pay for the Water Resources Department’s critical field and scientific work ensure water is available for farms, factories, and cities, while also protecting rivers, fish populations, and wildlife habitat.
Read the full text of SB 217 here.
We are going to be closely monitoring state efforts to fund and stimulate water development projects to ensure that Oregon’s rivers receive the protection they deserve.
Please check back here for more information, updates, and alerts!
Add Your Voice to Protect Oregon’s Rivers
Grassroots support and public participation are essential to reforming the antiquated laws and policies that degrade our waterways. Add your voice to the call for change - contact your lawmakers and please sign up for WaterWatch’s email action network, RiverAction, today.
RiverAction Alert: Support Fair Fees for Critical Water Right Management! April 16, 2013
Please take a moment to let the Oregon State Senate’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources know that you support SB 217!
RiverAction Alert: Please Stand Up for Oregon Rivers! April 12, 2013
Please join us in attending a hearing on important legislation at the Capitol Building in Salem!
RiverAction Alert: Be part of Oregon’s Clean, Green Lobby Machine March 18, 2013
Please join us in Salem to take part in the annual Oregon League of Conservation Voters Lobby Day!
RiverAction Alert: Our 2013 Legislative Priorities February 11, 2013
Learn about our top legislative priorities this year, and show your support for these key initives!
RiverAction Alert: Help Protect some of Oregon’s Most Beloved Rivers! January 25, 2013
Send a message to your state Senator letting them know that you support SB 401, a bill expanding State Scenic Waterway protections to some of Oregon’s most iconic rivers and streams!
Oregon Conservation Network Common Agenda
WaterWatch has served on the Steering Committee of the Oregon Conservation Network and the Priorities for a Healthy Oregon.