Speak Up for Water!

If you care about clean and abundant water, we hope you will make your voice heard at an open house this June. At these open houses, the three state agencies responsible for protecting Oregon’s water and making sure we have enough water to go around will:

  • share information on initiatives to prepare for drought, protect water instream for fish, reduce pesticide runoff, and more
  • ask for public input on what to prioritize as they update the state’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS)

Sure, “Integrated Water Resources Strategy” is a wonky name, but the IWRS is a critical plan for ensuring that Oregon’s waterways are clean and that we have enough water to meet the needs of our communities, farmers and ranchers, and native fish and wildlife.

Upcoming open houses will be held from 5:30-7:00 in the following communities:

  • Salem – Thursday, June 16
  • Newport – Monday, June 20
  • Medford – Wednesday, June 22
  • Bend – Thursday, June 23
  • Beaverton – Thursday, June 30

For more information, including the open house locations, check out the Integrated Water Resources Strategy Open House Events flyer.

We know you care about water as much as we do and hope you’ll speak up for:

Dramatic Improvements in Water Use Efficiency

Some Oregon farmers are proudly using some of the most efficient water management practices on the planet, and we need others to follow suit. As water becomes increasingly more scarce, due to climate change and increased demand, all Oregon water users must maximize water efficiency and water conservation. Using water more efficiently is the cheapest, fastest, and most effective way to thrive with limited water supplies. The new IWRS strategy should stop wasteful practices in urban and rural areas and develop basin-specific efficiency standards for agriculture.

Pollution Prevention

Water pollution comes from a variety of sources, including overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, runoff from roads and parking lots, industrial effluent, and more. Of particular concern to human health is contaminated drinking water. The new IWRS strategy should include stronger recommendations to reduce sources of water pollution to protect public and ecosystem health, ensure that our current water quality laws are enforced, and ensure adequate funding to implement pollution prevention strategies.

Better Protections for Fish and Wildlife

Fish and wildlife need healthy rivers with lots of running water to survive. The new IWRS strategy should require drought resiliency measures that protect fish and wildlife, including ensuring minimum water flows on ecologically significant streams. Oregon’s existing drought laws don’t address the needs of fish and wildlife.

Measure Water Use

If we don’t know how much water we’re using, there’s no way to manage it wisely for all needs. The new IWRS strategy should require full and fast implementation of Oregon’s Water Resources Measurement Strategy (a strategy that’s been on the books for 16 years, but is being implemented at a tortoise-like pace).

Quantify Instream Water Needs and Set Goals for New Instream Water Rights

In response to the original 2012 Integrated Water Resources Strategy, the state forecasted water demands for agriculture, commercial, municipal, and agricultural needs (that’s the water that’s used up), but not water needs for fish, wildlife, water quality, and recreation (that’s the water that needs to stay instream). Without this data, the state can’t plan for and protect instream needs into the future. The new IWRS strategy should require the state to define statewide instream demands – including peak and ecological flows. The new IWRS should also require speedy implementation of the original recommendation to establish new instream water rights to protect flows for fish, wildlife, recreation, and water quality.

For those unable to attend an open house in person, the Oregon Water Resources Department is also soliciting comments via an online form through Friday, July 15, 2016.  The online comment form is available here: iwrsdroughtcomments.

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