WaterWatch Supporters, Staff to Testify in Support of Groundwater Allocation Revisions at Final OWRD Groundwater Meeting in Salem

May 20, 2024


For information please contact:
Tommy Hough (pr: “how”), WaterWatch of Oregon, tommy@waterwatch.org

Tuesday, May 21st – 5:30 to 9 p.m. (information session to begin at 5:30 p.m., public meeting to begin at 7 p.m.)

North Mall Office Building 725 Summer St. NE Room 124 Salem, OR 97301

The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) will host its final public meeting on new groundwater allocation rules beginning with an information-only session from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a public hearing from 7 to 9 p.m. The public can attend the meeting either in person or virtually by utilizing separate Zoom links for the information session and public hearing.

For decades, Oregon’s existing groundwater allocation process has resulted in an over-issuance of groundwater permits, and has caused major groundwater level declines across the state that harm rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and springs that rely upon inputs of cold, clean groundwater. Declining groundwater levels have also harmed existing surface water rights, including instream water rights, and domestic well owners who rely on groundwater for drinking water and household use.

Proposed new rules for groundwater allocation will put Oregon on a more responsible path to groundwater sustainability and will define “reasonably stable” groundwater levels and prevent new groundwater permits from being issued when groundwater levels are not reasonably stable; establish the amount and type of data needed to determine whether groundwater levels are reasonably stable; require denial of a permit application if that data is not available; and protect senior surface water rights — including instream water rights — by requiring a full accounting of the impacts of proposed pumping on hydrologically connected rivers and streams.

The proposed rule updates mark an important improvement in the state’s groundwater allocation process that will better account for impacts on surface water and end the practice of “defaulting to yes,” or issuing new groundwater rights when the state lacks data to determine whether it had already over-appropriated groundwater in a particular area, and whether a proposed new use is within what’s called the “capacity of the resource” (links included below).

Water users and advocates from around the state, environmental and conservation advocates, WaterWatch staff members.

State agency and meeting facility, commissioners, members of the public speaking during public comment, opportunities for “talking head” interviews inside and outside venue.

For more information contact Tommy Hough at tommy@waterwatch.org.

Visit the latest edition of WaterWatch’s biweekly e-news digest Currents.


At Long Last, Revised Groundwater Rules for Oregon

Groundwater Over-Allocation in Oregon: the Deschutes, Umatilla, Klamath and Harney Basins

State Groundwater Management, Capacity and Investment: A Transformative Package

Urgent Groundwater Reforms Needed for a Sustainable Water Future

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

Groundwater: Oregon’s Future Depends On It

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB): Race to the Bottom (2022)

The Oregonian: Draining Oregon (2016)

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Since 1985, WaterWatch of Oregon has pursued a single clear mission: To protect and restore flows in Oregon rivers and waterways to sustain the native fish, wildlife, people, and communities that depend on healthy rivers. WaterWatch of Oregon was the first organization in the west to seek structural reform of antiquated water laws to protect and restore rivers, and was instrumental in the passage of the Instream Water Rights Act of 1987.