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!