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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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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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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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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 …

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America Is Using Up Its Groundwater Like There’s No Tomorrow

By Claire O’Neill, Matt McCann and Umi Syam  |  Edited by Jesse Pesta and Douglas Alteen  |  Aug. 28, 2023  |  New York Times Overuse is draining and damaging aquifers nationwide, a New York Times data investigation revealed. A wealth of underground water helped create the United States, our nation’s vast cities and bountiful farmland. Now, Americans are squandering that …

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Support Rivers and Fish as Part of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) Update

May 22, 2023 Oregon’s Kitchen Table recently posted a survey to help state officials better understand what water issues are important to you. The information and data collected will ultimately help shape the next iteration of the state’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS). Background: The IWRS is Oregon’s blueprint for meeting both instream and out-of-stream needs, and is critical to …

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River Action Alert: Speak Up for Rivers and Fish in Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy Update

May 9, 2023 We need your help in lending your voice to the water needs of rivers and fish as part of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) update. Oregon’s blueprint for meeting both instream and out-of-stream needs, the IWRS is critically important in shaping policies, programs, and budgets for multiple state agencies. First published in 2012, the IWRS provides …

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Race to the Bottom: How Central Oregon Groundwater Sells to the Highest Bidders

By Emily Cureton Cook  |  July 19, 2022  |  Oregon Public Broadcasting In Oregon’s fastest-growing region, more residents are struggling to reach an affordable water supply. A developer’s quest to keep pumping tests what state officials are willing to do about it. Editor’s note: This is the third story in a series about how Oregon officials managing groundwater supplies have …

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Stricter Groundwater Regulations Contemplated for Oregon

By Mateusz Perkowski  |  June 17, 2022  | Capital Press Oregon water regulators want to impose stricter rules for drilling new irrigation wells next year to preserve groundwater levels and prevent over-pumping. A preliminary analysis of available data suggests that little groundwater across the state is available for new allocations, said Ivan Gall, field services division administrator at the state’s …

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Urgent Groundwater Reforms Needed for a Sustainable Water Future

By WaterWatch Staff  |  April 5, 2022  |  Instream WaterWatch works across Oregon in administrative, collaborative, legislative and legal forums to advocate for reforms needed to secure sustainable groundwater management. WaterWatch has identified five critical and urgent reforms needed to put Oregon on a course to manage groundwater sustainably: 1  —  Stop issuing permits without adequate information. Even though groundwater …

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Protecting Groundwater Resources is Critical for Oregon’s Environment and People

By WaterWatch Staff  |  April 5, 2022  |  Instream Groundwater provides a myriad of irreplaceable ecological benefits and is the sole source of drinking water for nearly one in four Oregonians. WaterWatch has a long history of working to ensure that Oregon’s management of groundwater preserves the vital role of this resource in maintaining streamflows, springs and wetlands. This work …

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It’s Feared a Vital Lake in Oregon Could Run Dry Within a Generation

By Emily Cureton Cook with Rachel Martin  |  April 4, 2022  |  NPR Morning Edition In Oregon’s high desert, a lake more than 10,000 years old is drying up. That doesn’t have to happen. Summer Lake hosts millions of migratory birds annually, but its water is being diverted to farms. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: In southern Oregon’s high desert, an ancient …

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Race to the Bottom: How Big Business Took Over Oregon’s First Protected Aquifer

By Emily Cureton Cook  |  March 16, 2022  |  Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) In Malheur County’s Cow Valley, state regulators have ignored known issues with overpumping groundwater, leaving the region at risk of economic and ecological damage that will be difficult to reverse. The warnings were hard to miss on a forsaken stretch of Highway 26 in Eastern Oregon. A …

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State officials let mega-dairy use loophole to tap endangered Oregon aquifer

State officials let mega-dairy use loophole to tap endangered Oregon aquifer By: Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal   March 22, 2018 A year after it opened, Oregon’s second-largest dairy has not secured rights to the nearly 1 million gallons of water per day it needs for its thousands of cows and to process milk. Instead, Lost Valley Farm near Boardman moved ahead without the necessary permits, using …

Proposed Oregon mega-dairy wins key permit

Proposed Oregon mega-dairy wins key permit by Tracy Loew Statesman Journal March 31, 2017 A dairy with 30,000 animals proposed for Eastern Oregon has won state approval of its plan to manage the 187 million gallons of manure it will produce each year. Lost Valley Farm would be the second-largest confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) in the state, after neighboring …

Editorial: Short on aquifer information

Editorial: Short on aquifer information By the Editorial Board Baker City Herald September 21, 2016 When you irrigate fields and pastures from a reservoir or a stream, it’s easy to tell when you’re running short on water. You just have to look. But the situation is nothing like as simple when it comes to some of Oregon’s larger sources of …

EDITORIAL: Water, water everywhere

EDITORIAL: Water, water everywhere But Oregon’s aquifers are being drained By the Editorial Board Eugene Register-Guard September 14, 2016 A recent report by The (Portland) Oregonian about the massive amount of water being pumped from Oregon’s underground reservoirs, much of it for agricultural uses in Eastern Oregon, with little oversight or control, should set off enough alarm bells to wake …

Draining Oregon: State regulators must stop approving wells when water levels are unknown

Draining Oregon: State regulators must stop approving wells when water levels are unknown By The Oregonian Editorial Board The Oregonian September 10, 2016 State regulators approve permits for wells in Oregon even as they suspect there isn’t enough water in some areas to keep pace. A permit application might state it “cannot be determined” whether enough ground water existed for …

Op-Ed: Eastern Oregon is running out of water

Op-Ed: Eastern Oregon is running out of water By Dorys C. Grover East Oregonian September 9, 2016 Water, one day, may be the drink of choice. We will be thirsty. One day we may find our high groundwater extraction has caused our aquifers to run out of water. There may come a day when our government will designate the amount …

Special Report: Draining Oregon

Special Report: Draining Oregon, Oregonian, August 26, 2016 In-depth analysis of state water management found farmers in a quarter of eastern Oregon, the driest part of the state, are allowed to pump more underground water each year than rains deposit. The water giveaway threatens economic chaos and hurts fish and wildlife.

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Stream of Consciousness: Drought, Deconstructed

By John DeVoe  |  June 15, 2015  |  Instream For many Oregonians, drought once existed as an abstraction, something that happened elsewhere, far away. No longer. This summer, Oregon’s rivers are suffering some of the lowest streamflows and highest water temperatures in our recorded history. These conditions are triggering tragic kills of salmon, steelhead, trout, and sturgeon in the Columbia, …

Water fight brewing

Water fight brewing By Nick Budnick Bend Bulletin April 06, 2009 Diverting water from the Deschutes into Tumalo Reservoir would help meet future demand and make it ‘hugely cheaper’ to pump groundwater, say the plan’s backers. Opponents argue the proposal flies in the face of existing regulations. Challenging the widely held view that all the water in the Deschutes River …

Metolius resort may face water snag

Metolius resort may face water snag By Nick Budnick Bend Bulletin February 14, 2009 Talks are under way on Ponderosa’s well plan, but it may go to a judge SALEM — The Ponderosa Land and Cattle Co. wants to drill as many as 10 wells 1,000 feet into the earth to draw water for the company’s proposed 2,500-unit destination resort …

Water shortage back before lawmakers

Water shortage back before lawmakers Article on the proposed Umatilla basin aquifer storage plan. By Dean Brickey and Mitch Lies East Oregonian January 30, 2008   SALEM – Oregon lawmakers in special session beginning Monday will consider budgeting $750,000 for a feasibility study to determine if groundwater recharge can work in the Umatilla Basin. The aquifer recovery plan calls for …

Dropping rural Oregon groundwater levels causing concerns

Dropping rural Oregon groundwater levels causing concerns Bend Bulletin (AP) March 14, 2007 SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A homebuilder in rural Oregon can still sink a well and usually pump up to 15,000 gallons of water a day. But well levels are dropping, and in Salem the situation is getting another look as agriculture, fishery and environmental advocates ask lawmakers …

Water board gets earful on pumping

Water board gets earful on pumping By Dylan Darling Capital Press November 04, 2005   KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Farmers and federal officials can’t expect pumping well water to be a long-term solution for the surface water crunch in the Klamath Basin, Oregon water officials said at a workshop here last week. But state permits for pumping in the parched …

Officials Say Rules will Limit Groundwater Impacts

Officials Say Rules will Limit Groundwater Impacts By Dylan Darling Klamath Falls Herald & News October 28, 2004   Tapping into aquifers below the Klamath Basin is a Band-aid, but not a long-term solution, leading Oregon water officials said Thursday. But, they said, permits for pumping will flow. Dan Thorndike, chair of the Oregon Water Resources Commission, said the state …