A 100-Year Vision for Water

“I hope that this river eventually can get back to near perfect – all the wildlife and habitat that may not be perfect now can be back so we can see what it’s like to have a really nice ecosystem in the watershed.”
– Orren Carter, Lowell High School Junior

Oregonians today and our children’s children deserve clean and reliable water. However, a changing climate, aging infrastructure across the state and lack of ongoing investment in clean water have left the system stressed, putting our health, safety, economy and environment at risk.

Every major river in Oregon is out of compliance with water quality standards that protect human health and aquatic life. Local fish in many waterways are contaminated with mercury and PCBs. Toxic algae blooms are becoming more frequent, and in parts of the state wells are going dry or groundwater is unsafe to drink.

While we’ve been working on public policies to protect health and prevent pollution of our waterways over the past five decades, Oregon Environmental Council has also recognized that ensuring a secure and resilient water future for all Oregonians will require a more serious and consistent investment of resources.

It is in this context that we are pleased to see Oregon’s state agencies collaborating on a multi-year effort to assess the current conditions of natural and built water infrastructure across the state and to identify the diverse water quality and quantity needs across the state that will move us toward a more resilient water future now and for the next 100 years.

This effort is about helping local communities adapt to a new normal of drought, flooding and toxic algae.

It’s about using water wisely and creatively as our communities grow.

It’s about Oregonians having more ownership over what happens to their drinking water.

And it’s about restoring the natural ecosystems that sustain us and the fish and wildlife that depend on them.

Oregon Environmental Council is actively participating in the state’s process to develop a 100-year water investment strategy. We believe that any vision for Oregon’s water future should take into consideration overall watershed health, elevate sustainable solutions that help Oregon businesses thrive under changing climate conditions, reflect unique local and regional challenges, and prioritize the needs of Oregonians that are most vulnerable.

Whether in your backyard, your business or at the Capitol in Salem, every Oregonian has a role to play in preserving our precious water resources for future generations.

What considerations do you think should be taken into account when deciding how to collectively set priorities for Oregon’s water future? Let us know in the comments!

6 Replies to "A 100-Year Vision for Water"

  • Mark
    November 2, 2018 (9:36 pm)

    The 100 year public health history and the scientific benefits of the Bull Run drinking water system as it is today, blend together to support keeping the reservoirs open and not adding unnecessary treatment. The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to maintaining the public health of the Bull Run water system states: if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an act. The principle promotes social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm. This standard for public health was adopted by the City of Portland in 2006 as the Toxics Reduction Strategy. http://www.sehn.org/pdf/portland.pdfIf we do not obtain an EPA Safe Drinking Water Act Waiver exempting Portland from LT2, Radon, formaldehyde, and other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals will be knowingly introduced into our drinking water and ultimately our homes. We ask our elected officials take responsibility for citizens public health and safety the Portland City Council promised us in adopting this standard. Portland City Council has remained silent. Please contact Portland City Council members and tell them; we do not need added drinking water treatment and we want our open reservoirs to remain uncovered. We want an EPA Safe Drinking Water Act Waiver.
    See: http://bullrunwaiver.org/issues/

  • Jen Davis
    November 4, 2018 (7:28 pm)

    I support everything Mark has just mentioned. Further, we need: 1) a permanent ban of fluoridation in this state. New research has definitively shown it is dangerous to humans, especially babies and children, and toxic to aquatic organisms and other creatures. There is absolutely no solid evidence that it aids dental health and in fact over long term clear evidence shows excessive fluoride deteriorates teeth and bones. 2) we need a comprehensive sanitation disaster plan in case of earthquake. Every household should be equipped with buckets, bins and granite waste material to thermophillically compost waste to avoid cholera and other diseases from waste material flowing into waterways. 3) we need a ban on fracking, which permanently pollutes and destroys millions of gallons of drinking water. 4) we need a statewide investment in water education for all citizens. All students should learn about the water cycle, and the importance of conserving water as well as limiting pollution. Every household should receive updates on ways to conserve water as well as how to avoid polluting it. We are statewide in s drought and most folks don’t even know this. 4) we need to work with textile industries to phase out plastics, which when washed leach billions of plastic fibers into our water. We need to ban all misroplastics in cosmetics, soaps, etc. We need a ban on single-use plastics and straws- plastics are killing our oceans and entering all our waterways as well as bodies. 5) we need to educate farmers on best practices to not only conserve water, but also to not pollute it. These include: no-till Agroecological agriculture- proven to be preserve and nourish the soil biome- crucial for drought tolerance, carbon sequestration, and optimal nourishment of plants with reduced inputs. Go to Singing Frog Farm in CA online to read more about these sorts of practices. 6) we need to be all hands on deck to mitigate climate change. Every city needs solar panels on every new construction, over every freeway and parking lot. We need maximum insulation in all buildings and light and energy sensors in every tall building to reduce consumption. We need coupons and education to every household for maximum tree and native plant gardening- we need to reforest the city. We need electric pumps instead of gas pumps, and these should be solar fed. We need signs in yards talking about climate change and how we must change to stop it. We need every polluting industry and vehicle fully filtered. We need more urban farming, and heavier state investment to make this safe and viable. We need lots of mini forests everywhere we can put them- trees help make rain, according to recent science studies. Google mini-forests for more info. We need serious investment in more mass transit so affordable and comfortable folks get out of cars. We need bikes and bike lanes in every region and safer places to park bikes so they won’t get stolen. 7) we need to get serious about banning the egregious use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other water polluting Toxics. It should be last resort to use any chemical which can endanger our water supply.

  • Stacey Dalgaard - OEC Water Program
    November 6, 2018 (12:45 am)

    Thank you for sharing your perspectives. The issues of safe drinking water, pollution prevention, drought and public education are very much on our minds as we think about the future of Oregon’s water resources. Oregon Environmental Council advocates for statewide solutions that are impactful, equitable, and lasting, while ensuring they are also scientifically and economically sound.

    You may be interested in learning more about our water work at oeconline.org/cleanwater, and signing up for our action alerts to stay informed about the environmental issues at stake in Oregon’s 2019 legislative session: https://oeconline.org/take-action.

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