Statewide Open Houses Promote a Water Future for Oregon

A series of open houses are currently being held throughout Oregon to gather input for the development of the statewide Integrated Water Resources Strategy, established during the 2009 legislative session by HB 3369. The bill directed the Oregon Water Resources Department to develop a plan to integrate water quality, water quantity and ecosystem functions throughout the state by December 2012.

Water is an economic driver in all communities. Taking a hard look at Oregon’s water resources and today’s economic, social and ecological demands is important. Most surface waters are fully allocated in the summertime. In many areas groundwater basins face diminishing supplies.

Developing solutions to solve several water issues at once would be an astounding accomplishment and a potential economic opportunity for Oregon and for our rural communities. For example, creating off-stream storage to capture water during high water flows, and using it to recharge ground water limited aquifers, could be a win for everyone.

Communities throughout Oregon should be provided with a strategy that embraces a local approach to enhancing water resources. Oregon policymakers should capture the creative ingenuity of their citizens. Oregonians should demand the creation of a system of managing water resources that recognizes local conditions, allows flexibility to address future needs as they develop, and fosters economic opportunity.

Click here for the schedule and location of the Water Resources meeting held in your community.

Karla Kay Edwards is Rural Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute. She has held positions of leadership in numerous organizations focusing on agricultural and rural industries and issues, including the Fresno (California) Farm Bureau, Washington Cattlemen’s Association and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.