Senate Democrats Question GOP Plan to Sell Oregon Water

[Senate Majority Release]
Senate Democrats Question Republican Plan to Sell Oregon’s Water
Democrats assert that the state water policy should focus on the needs of Oregonians first

SALEM — Members of the Senate Democratic caucus Tuesday raised concern over a Republican plan to sell Oregon’s water to other states. The plan was released as part of the Senate Republican caucus’s agenda for the 2009 session.

“While the complexities of this proposal have yet to be vetted, it seems doubtful that this is the sort of idea that Oregonians could get behind,” said Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin). “Democrats in the legislature would prefer to store our water here at home before shipping it off to California.”

The Republican plan, which calls water “Oregon Oil,” suggests that 70 million acre feet of water a year is “wasted” when the flow of the Columbia reaches the Pacific Ocean. They suggest that this water is in excess of that needed for farms, fisheries, and hydroelectric power.

“First and foremost, while not closing our minds to long-term viable solutions for state funding, we are committed to ensuring that Oregonians and our agricultural community have the stable and sufficient water supply they need” said Senator Alan Bates (D-Ashland), chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources. “We are in the middle of a state-wide water needs assessment and we will respond to those needs before we divert our water anywhere outside of Oregon. Senate Democrats have demonstrated leadership on this issue, and I’m confident that we will continue our record of smart and sensible water planning for our state.”

Democrats have a strong record of looking out for Oregon’s water needs. During the 2008 February Session, Senate Democrats in the legislature passed the Agricultural and Community Water Act, or ACWA, which expands options for developing a sufficient and sustainable water supply for Oregonians. Additionally, in 2007 Democrats passed the first broad state water study in recent history.

“Continuing our commitment to Oregon’s water needs for now and the future is a duty that we don’t take lightly,” said Devlin. “We’re not interested in the commoditization of a precious resource when our own water security is still an issue and priority to many Oregonians.”