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Court Hearing in Winchester Dam Water Storage Case

Feb. 16, 2024 The outcome of a hearing in Marion County Circuit Court in Salem could have a big impact on the fate of Winchester Dam, and by extension the North Umpqua River’s struggling salmon and steelhead populations, as a motion filed by the Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD) to dismiss an earlier water storage lawsuit by the owners of …

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WaterWatch Presents Author and Photographer Amy Gulick

You’re invited to join WaterWatch of Oregon at the REI Clackamas Town Center location on Tuesday, March 5th, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for our first in-person speaker event of the year as we welcome author and photographer Amy Gulick. An award-winning nature photographer who cut her teeth on a tough, monthlong assignment in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Amy …

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Latest Thornburgh Resort Decision Appealed to State Court of Appeals

By Anna Kaminski  |  Feb. 6, 2024  |  Bend Bulletin The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, local land use watchdog organization Central Oregon LandWatch and a trio of Deschutes County residents have appealed a recent state land use decision on the Thornburgh destination resort as a part of an ongoing battle over the resort’s water use in the High Desert. …

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Winchester Dam: Setting a River Free is a Noble Deed

By Connie Page  |  Feb. 4, 2024  |  Roseburg News-Review I have seen multiple letters and programs recently about removing the Winchester Dam. I appreciate all the effort being put forward by local citizens. With over 111,000 citizens in Douglas County, and only 100-plus benefitting from this dam, I am surprised we have not heard more calls for removal. The …

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WaterWatch Action Alert — Support the Powder River

Feb. 2, 2024 Located in northeastern Oregon, the Powder River cuts canyons of up to 500 feet into the surrounding Columbia plateau along its route to the Snake River, with 11 miles of its length protected under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Powder River also flows through a major agricultural region, with livestock ranches and fields of …

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Winchester Dam Serves No Purpose for the Fish of the North Umpqua

By Nate Humphrey  |  Jan. 13, 2024  |  Bend Bulletin For those of us who have visited the North Umpqua River, it’s not a place you can forget. With cold, crystal-clear water, incredible wildlife, an abundance of native wildflowers and so much more, the North Umpqua’s beauty is unmatched. The North Umpqua and its salmon and steelhead have been struggling …

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Martin Luther King Day Events and Fee-Free Locales for Monday, Jan. 15th

This Monday, Jan. 15th, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and as the late civil rights leader’s widow Coretta Scott King said in 1983 upon passage of the holiday marking her husband’s birthday, “The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrate the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through …

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Holiday Wishes from WaterWatch of Oregon

We’d like to wish you, your family, friends, and those close to you the happiest of holidays from WaterWatch of Oregon, and express our gratitude for your support of our work, and the preservation of Oregon’s rivers, creeks, wetlands, and waterways in what has been a landmark year for our organization. After all, Oregon’s rivers serve more than just a …

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Winchester Dam Removal Necessary, Will Create Economic Boom

By John Hunter  |  Dec. 14, 2023  |  Roseburg News-Review Opinion There can be no doubt that the Winchester Dam will be removed. History will justify that its removal was necessary. Once the dam is gone and the private water ski lake drained, Douglas County — with wise and proper planning — will experience an economic boom that is much …

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Transfer Battle Has Far-Reaching Implications for Oregon Water Law

By Mateusz Perkowski  |  Dec. 14, 2023  |  Capital Press The irony of the legal dispute over upgrades to the Painted Hills Reservoir in Central Oregon is that everyone agrees the project helps the environment. Oregon’s water regulators have contributed money toward raising the dam and storing more water for fish, even though they’re now fighting the project’s owner in …

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Happy Holidays from Executive Director Neil Brandt

There is so much to be thankful for this holiday season. At WaterWatch, we are grateful to supporters like you who make it possible for WaterWatch to protect and restore Oregon’s rivers, lakes, fish, wildlife, and people. This year was a landmark year for WaterWatch, and our expanded online 2023 accomplishments report showcases the impacts you have made possible. From …

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Uncharted Waters: As Groundwater Dwindles, Powerful Players Block Change

By Christopher Flavelle  |  Produced by Claire O’Neill, Matt McCann and Umi Syam  |  Edited by Lyndsey Layton and Douglas Alteen  |  Research contributed by Julie Tate  |  Nov. 24, 2023  |  New York Times Some of the people fighting efforts to conserve a vital resource that’s disappearing across the United States include the owners of the largest gold mine …

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Make WaterWatch a Part of Your Giving Tuesday Investment

The holiday season has arrived, and with Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror we wanted to share a reminder that Giving Tuesday is coming up this Tuesday, Nov. 28th. When making your choices for giving this Tuesday, remember that Oregon continues to face powerful moneyed and political interests that will dam and drain our rivers, whittle away our waterways, denude our …

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Oregon Water Officials Say Permitting Must Change to Keep Tens of Thousands of Wells from Going Dry

By Alex Baumhardt  |  Nov. 13, 2023  |  Oregon Capital Chronicle The cost of digging deeper wells could climb into the hundreds of millions if the state does not revamp groundwater permitting, officials told lawmakers. The Oregon Water Resources Department must update its 68-year-old rules for permitting new wells or double down on regulating existing ones, department officials said. If …

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A Tire Chemical is Threatening Salmon — Here’s What You Need to Know

By Rachel McCrea  |  Nov. 9, 2023  |  Washington Post Whether you own a gas, hybrid, or electric car, driving may have some unexpected environmental impacts: It could be killing salmon. Most tires contain 6PPD, a chemical several studies have linked to the deaths of certain kinds of fish. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in California on …

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Court Rules Against a Proposed Dam in Marion County

By Nathan Wilk  |  Nov. 3, 2023  |  KLCC Radio A proposal for a new dam in rural Marion County has drawn criticism from wildlife advocates. On Wednesday, a state court ruled against it. The East River Water District has been trying to build a reservoir at Drift Creek for a decade. They say it would be the only reliable …

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Oregon Court Rejects Proposed Dam Near Silver Falls State Park

By John Ross Ferrara  |  Nov. 2, 2023  |  KOIN News On Nov. 1, the Oregon Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the Oregon Water Resources Commission’s 2019 decision to deny the building of a 70-foot dam on Drift Creek between Silver Falls State Park and Silverton. The decision ended a 21-year battle to create a 12,000-acre-foot reservoir along Drift Creek, …

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Disastrous Dam Repair on North Umpqua Sparks Massive Fish Kill, Pollution Spills, State Senate Inquiry, and $27.6 Million Fine

By Jim McCarthy  |  Oct. 30, 2023  |  The Osprey At least 550,000 juvenile Pacific lamprey were killed this summer due to the botched repair of Winchester Dam on Oregon’s North Umpqua River. On October 6th, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) filed a $27.6 million claim for recovery of damages in the Douglas County Circuit Court against …

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Winchester Water Control District Fined $100,000 by State DEQ

By Gloria Coleman  |  Oct. 27, 2023  | Roseburg News-Review The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued two enforcement orders to pay civil penalties Thursday morning, one against the Winchester Water Control District and one against TerraFirma Foundation Repair Inc. Both of these fines are related to water quality violations during repairs on the Winchester Dam over the summer. The …

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Arrowhead Bottled Water Company Sues to Continue Piping from California Forest

By Ian James  |  Oct. 27, 2023  |  Los Angeles Times The company that sells Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water is suing to challenge California regulators’ recent ruling that the company must stop taking much of the water it pipes from the San Bernardino National Forest for bottling. BlueTriton Brands filed the lawsuit this month in Fresno County Superior Court, arguing …

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Oregon Fines Winchester Dam Owners $134,000 for Water Quality Violations

By Zach Urness  |  Oct. 26, 2023  |  Salem Statesman Journal The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued fines totaling over $134,000 against the operators of Winchester Dam on the North Umpqua River outside Roseburg on Thursday for water quality violations. DEQ fined Winchester Water Control District and TerraFirma Foundation Repair Inc. for discharging concrete into the river, putting down …

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DEQ Fines Winchester Dam Owners for Water Violations from Dam Repair

By Taylar Ansures  |  Oct. 26, 2023  |  KOBI News The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued two enforcement orders for the Winchester Water Control District and contractor TerraFirma for violations that happened during Winchester Dam repairs over the summer. According to DEQ, Winchester Water Control District is being fined $106,778 for violating at least 10 water quality certifications for …

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Inside Poland Spring’s Hidden Attack on Water Rules It Didn’t Like

By Hiroko Tabuchi  |  Oct. 24, 2023  |  New York Times When Maine lawmakers tried to rein in large-scale access to the state’s freshwater this year, the effort initially gained momentum. The state had just emerged from drought, and many Mainers were sympathetic to protecting their snow-fed lakes and streams. Then a Wall Street-backed giant called BlueTriton stepped in. BlueTriton …

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State Signals It’s Likely to Deny Redmond’s Application for Future Groundwater

By Joe Siess and Tim Trainor  |  Oct. 16, 2023  |  Redmond Spokesman The state, which has proposed new rules to Oregon’s groundwater permitting process, has signaled the city of Redmond’s application for a future groundwater permit would likely be denied. The Oregon Water Resources Department is reviewing the city’s application and taking a second look at the statewide rule …

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$27.6 Million Lawsuit Filed for Lamprey Loss During Winchester Dam Repairs

By Gloria Coleman  |  Oct. 7, 2023  |  Roseburg News-Review The Winchester Water Control District and associated contractors are facing a more than $27.5 million claim, which was filed Friday in Douglas County Circuit Court, for their role in the loss of juvenile Pacific lamprey during recent repairs of the Winchester Dam. “The number of lamprey killed as a result …

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Crews Demolish Dam in Takelma Creek, Restore Access for Salmon

By Izzie Lund  |  Oct. 4, 2023  |  KDRV News Crews have finished demolishing a 13-foot-high, 70-foot-wide dam in an effort to restore salmon and steelhead habitat in Takelma Creek, according to a news release from WaterWatch of Oregon. “(The project) opened access to approximately 3.5 miles of formerly blocked spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead, replaced the …

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Douglas County Residents Sound Off On Winchester Dam in Roseburg News-Review

By Becky McRae and Bill Black  |  Oct. 3, 2023  |  Roseburg News-Review Too Many Questions Linger on Winchester Dam The North Umpqua River is the reason Zane Grey left the Rogue River. The river enjoyed the fishing of Jimmy Carter when he was President of the United States, it welcomed author and fisherman Jack Hemmingway, and itwas the setting …

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Central Oregon Cities Poke Holes in State Plans to Tighten Groundwater Rules

By Emily Cureton Cook  |  Oct. 2, 2023  |  Oregon Public Broadcasting Oregon water managers are considering the most consequential water policy changes the state has seen in decades. These changes would crack down on new groundwater rights, making it more difficult for people to drill wells. Advocates say this is critical to protect the environment and ensure future water …

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Protections for Flows and Fish Secured on the Crooked River

Oct. 2, 2023 After a decade of advocacy to restore and protect the flows of the Crooked River in Central Oregon, long-awaited legal protection for flows released from Prineville Reservoir for downstream fish and wildlife has at last been approved. The Crooked River in Central Oregon is one of Oregon’s crown jewels. Winding through farmlands, Smith Rock State Park, and …

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State Considers Penalties, Fines After Umpqua River Dam Repair Kills Thousands of Fish

By Alex Baumhardt  |  Sept. 27, 2023  |  Oregon Capital Chronicle The operators and renovators of a controversial dam on the Umpqua River in southern Oregon could face state fines and civil penalties following repairs that killed hundreds of thousands of fish and resulted in environmental violations. The privately owned Winchester Dam north of Roseburg underwent repairs in August for …

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After Fish Kill, a Search for Accountability at Winchester Dam

By Jane Vaughan  |  Sept. 27, 2023  |  Jefferson Public Radio Dam repair work on the North Umpqua River in August and early September led to hundreds of thousands of lamprey dying. There are now questions about accountability for the repair work that was done at the Winchester Dam near Roseburg. Representatives from the Oregon Water Resources Department, Oregon Department …

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Harney County’s Groundwater Crisis Draws Oregon Policymakers, Private Investors

By Emily Cureton Cook  |  Sept. 27, 2023  |  Oregon Public Broadcasting Oregon water regulators are poised to change how they protect overdrawn aquifers. The Oregon Water Resources Commission will consider a number of policy reforms at a two-day meeting this week in Harney County, a setting that’s become emblematic of state mismanagement of groundwater. The proposed changes come after years …