Water Can’t Wait

By Lori Grant, Water Program Director

Whether it’s Idaho, Nevada, or Oregon, states across the West are all having the same conversation about water: our rivers and aquifers are over appropriated, which is to say that more water has been promised to people, agriculture and ecosystems than nature can continue to provide.

Even as we experience one of the wettest winters in a decade, the future of Oregon’s water resources is uncertain. Across the state, wells and streams are already going dry seasonally, and according to a recent report from OSU’s Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, diminishing water supply and increased demand are expected to strain the ability of existing infrastructure and operations to meet all the varied water needs in the state.

Even the Willamette Valley is not immune: The Oregon Climate Assessment Report called attention to summer water scarcity as a growing concern for the most densely populated region of the state. And a report on California’s extended drought showed that water shortages disproportionately affect already disadvantaged communities, including low-income households, people of color, and communities already burdened with environmental pollution.

Water scarcity affects everyone, including growing communities, fishermen, farmers, Native peoples, manufacturers, and all Oregonians who love our rivers, salmon and steelhead runs, and who depend on our natural resources. Oregon’s economy and way of life depend on a clean and reliable source of water, but drought has left Oregonians vulnerable. We can’t afford to wait until water scarcity is the norm to address these challenges.

This legislative session, you will hear about our water budget, water rights and expectations of water users, but the bottom line is that the state must find a way to pay for the ongoing management of our water supplies and to fill critical gaps in our knowledge of how much water we have and how quickly it is being consumed. Without this basic information, it’s impossible for communities on the ground to reliably and responsibly plan for the seasons ahead.

It is our civic duty to take responsibility for the integrity of our water supply and protect the land we call home. That’s why OEC is working collaboratively with partners from across the state to address the problem before it becomes a crisis, and reliably and responsibly plan for the changing seasons ahead.

Learn more about smart water management policies being explored this session here, and sign up for our G.A.I.N. list to take action when the time comes to raise your voice on this issue.

Image credit: Great Basin region of Oregon photo courtesy BLM, aquifers under extreme pumping stress graphic courtesy The Oregonian Draining Oregon series

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Policy Featured Eco-Healthy Homes Our Impact Environmental Health Water News Water Conservation Rural Partnerships Water Stories Climate Protection Earth Day Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Job Opportunities Stormwater Water Action Agriculture
Sort by
text reads "2024 legislative debrief -- featured guest: Senator Sollman" thumbnail image is of thomas baker and senator sollman

2024 Legislative Debrief Video

On May 6, we hosted our 2024 Virtual Legislative Debrief. The conversation featured Oregon Senator Janeen Sollmon. With her insights, we covered a wide range of topics — from last session’s environmental victo
May 16, 2024, 10:48 am


Governor Kotek Nominates Ivan Gall to Lead OWRD

OEC joins our partners in applauding Governor Tina Kotek’s nomination of 
May 15, 2024, 12:33 pm


oregon mountain cloaked in clouds with pink hue from sunset

Speak Up For the Climate Protection Program (CPP)!

Last December, the oil and gas industry and their allies delivered a devastating blow to climate justice in our state.  The Oregon Court of Appeals invalidated Oregon’s landmark
May 7, 2024, 9:41 am


Celebrate Earth Week with BottleDrop Give!

Happy Earth Week! Obviously, this is our favorite time of year at OEC. It’s an opportunity to go on a favorite hike, connect with your community, and reflect on the beauty and bounty of our one and only planet. However, this holiday isn’t just about celebration: it’s also about looking ahead, and standing up for the future of our home. It’s no secret that we’re feeling the effects of climate change
April 25, 2024, 11:35 am


Climate Program Director

April 16, 2024, 4:09 pm


Transportation Program Director

April 16, 2024, 11:15 am


2024 Spring Newsletter

Scroll to read the full issue, or download the 2024 Spring newsletter.
April 15, 2024, 3:35 pm


wetland in the malheur national wildlife refuge with dry grass and clouds in the blue sky

Make Your Voice Heard for the Future of Oregon Groundwater!

When you think about water in Oregon, you might think about the Rogue River, Pacific Coast or Malheur Lake. However, some of the most important bodies of water in our state aren’t visible to the naked eye: they’re under our feet.
April 9, 2024, 1:38 pm


Building Climate Resilience with Better Buildings

Gazing at the downtown skyline of Portland? Rushing through PDX to catch a flight? Lost in the Silicon Forest? You probably aren’t thinking about how to reduce climate emissions. But Oregon’s large office, high-tech and public buildings are one of Oregon’s best opportunities to meet our climate goals by addressing our second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because the overall “carbon footprint” of
April 8, 2024, 4:36 pm


4 Replies to "Water Can’t Wait"

  • LaVerne Landauer
    February 24, 2017 (8:53 pm)

    The Washington County Democrats Platform Committee has a resolution in process regarding ground water usage and monitoring. The first reading was on Feb. 22, 2017 and will have a second reading and vote on March 22, 2017. I started working on this last fall after the series on water usage in Oregon ran in the Oregonian. Representative Ken Helm (D-Washington County) has three house bills (HB2705, HB2706 and HB2707) regarding this subject (as mentioned in the resolution). This important issue must be resolved as soon as possible and this is just a start. A copy of the resolution is on the front page of the Washcodems.org website under “February CC Meeting” and then “File, Resolution Re: Surface and Ground Water Usage in Oregon – 1st Reading.”

    • Stacey Malstrom
      February 27, 2017 (4:56 pm)

      Hi LaVerne, OEC also supports Rep. Helm’s bills, and smart water management is a key priority this session for all of the reasons outlined above. Thank you for your support in bringing these issues forward in Washington County. You can learn more about the bills and our entire legislative agenda on our policy page here: https://oeconline.org/our-work/policy.

  • Oregon Environmental Council | A Roadmap for Managing Our Water
    March 22, 2018 (11:15 pm)

    […] Read more from our team about why water can’t wait here. […]

  • Oregon Environmental Council | Act Now: Water Can’t Wait
    March 22, 2018 (11:22 pm)

    […] 1: Read our blog on why “Water Can’t Wait” to help you frame your remarks. Personalize your message based on your own experiences, values, […]