Senate Republicans announce plan to tap ‘Oregon Oil’

Press release from the Oregon Senate Republican Office

“In Alaska and Texas they have to drill for it. In Oregon, it falls from the sky.”

Salem, OR — Alaska and Texas have oil. Oregon has water. Senate Republicans want to manage Oregon’s most abundant and renewable resource as a new way to fund education, provide more affordable health care, keep Oregon’s streets safe and avoid raising taxes.

“The Columbia River represents a renewable resource that has the potential to keep taxes low and give our children a world-class education,” said Nelson. “Every day, millions of gallons of water pour into the ocean that could be sold to other states that desperately need our abundant water supply. The state revenue generated from utilizing this wasted resource could be used to lower Oregon’s class sizes, improve pay for teachers and create more opportunity at Oregon’s community colleges and universities.”

The Republican plan proposes selling excess water below the Bonneville Dam to states with declining water tables like Arizona or California. According to the Water Resources Department, of the 200 million acre feet that flow from the mouth of the Columbia River, 70 million acre feet of wasted water pour into the Ocean. After the needs of fish, tribes, power and irrigation are met, there is enough excess water below the Bonneville Dam to cover the entire state of Oregon with one foot of water.

Oregon currently extracts one-tenth of the amount of water Washington withdraws and less than one-tenth of the amount Idaho utilizes. If sold at a rate of one cent per gallon of water, $3,260 could be raised per acre foot. A mere 300,000 acre feet would raise $978 million.

“This is a resource we can’t afford to waste, for the sake of Oregon’s schools and universities,” said Nelson. “This is a chance to change the way we pay for government. Within current state law we can protect salmon and tribal values while creating a plentiful supply of water for Oregonians and others who need it. For Oregon families, that means more jobs, a more stable economy and more resources for classrooms.”

While demand for public services increase and available revenue decreases, new and innovative ways are needed to educate our children, provide more affordable healthcare and keep Oregon’s streets safe.


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Posted by at 12:24 | Posted in Measure 37 | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    We must start building the pipe today. We need the $.
    This is a real plan.
    These people are so smart it scares me. Just think, free money for free water. What could be better?

  • Chris McMullen

    Before we start selling water to other states, why don’t we do something about our highest in the nation water/sewer rates? If we have so much abundant water that we can sell it, why are we letting our local gubmints screw us?

    The trick is to *reduce* demand for public services. Ergo, shrink our ever-expanding government class.

    Cue the Marxist.

  • Joanne Rigutto

    Of all the hair brained schemes!
    1 – The money generated won’t go to the programs they say it will
    2 – If we are so rich in water, then instead of sending it to other states, let’s let our own farmers use it. Perhaps we could send it to the Klamath Basin, they’re short of water.

    But no, let’s sell it to someone else while our own people dry up and blow away…..


    • dean

      Well…wat least e can’t say the Republican party is out of ideas any more.

  • Brad

    Here in Klamath, there’s plenty of water, it’s hard enough to keep the upper klamath lake from swelling and there’s still some snow melting on the surrounding peaks…go ahead and sell it.

    • Joanne Rigutto

      OK, but I thought that everyone and his cousin (environmentalists that is) were trying to keep the farmers in the Klamath Basin from using the water in the Klamath reservoir system so that the sucker fish and the salmon could have it….

      I distinctly remember hearing about how upset a lot of the farms down there were when their water was being cut off to save the fish a few years ago.

      • dean

        That was a low water year. This is a very big water year. Memories must be short down there.

        • Joanne Rigutto

          Ya, I understand that. I still say that if we are going to harvest water from the Columbia, at or near the mouth, I’m not sure how far up the salt water goes, we should do so for the use of our own residents and those in Washington. Not California, Arizona or anyone else. One of the reasons that California has such a problem with water in some areas is that there are too many people and there is too much going on down there, ag, industry, people living a high water use lifestyle in a low water avaialability area. If they need more water, let them build more reservoirs in areas of the state that have higher water availability and pipe that water down to the dry areas.

          I mean, seriously, if we go shipping all of our water down to the other states, then, given the way things are going with climate change (man made or not is irrelevant), plain old cyclic changes in the weather patterns, we do have dry years and wet years and will for evermore, and with growth over the next 100 years and beyond in Oregon and Washington, then eventually we’re going to be in the same position that California and other dry areas are in.

          And, speaking of Washington state, I wonder how those people would feel about Oregon taking large ammounts of water out to sell elsewhere…..

          • dean

            Joanne…the brakish water on the incoming tide extends up about as far as Clatskanie. The tidal influence goe all the way to Bonneville Dam. The Columbia is such a large river that it sends a plume of fresh water miles out into the ocean. Diverting water can have all sorts of unintended negative consequences. Plus the energy cost of pump stations and such may be prohibitive.

            California is over subscribed, and just about every dam and water transfer that could be done has been done. It is mostly a semi-desert, especially in the south where half or more of the people live. But they have enough water for the people if they are willing to reduce their agriculture significantly. In LA they are doing 100% recycling of sewage back into drinking water. Yuk.

          • Jerry

            Who cares what Washington thinks?
            It is our water, too.
            At least half of it is.

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