WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, announced today that the Senate’s 2020 water resources legislation contains major victories for communities across Oregon.

Merkley has spent months working with community leaders all over the state developing detailed proposals to address local challenges. As a member of the EPW Committee, Merkley was involved in bipartisan negotiations to develop today’s legislation, and fought hard to include Oregon’s priorities. The draft legislation passed the Senate EPW Committee with significant bipartisan support this morning.

“From coastal communities whose ports power their local economies, to cities and towns all across Oregon that need clean and affordable drinking water, this legislation is a big victory for Oregon,” said Merkley.“Water is essential to our health and our economy. I fought for major investments in our water and port infrastructure because these investments will create jobs now and benefit our communities’ well-being for many years into the future.”

With committee passage today, the next step for the legislation is consideration by the full Senate.

Specific victories in today’s legislation include:

Helping Smaller Communities With Technical Support for Water Treatment: Many communities in Oregon have expressed how difficult it is to access the technical knowledge and professional guidance needed to design and finance water projects, and requested an expert to travel from community to community to discuss the best strategies for success. That’s exactly what Senator Merkley got into the bill: authorization for $10 million per year to fund a program made up of experts that can travel to communities to offer on the ground assistance and support to owners and operators of small and medium public-owned treatment works.

Willamette Locks Transfer: The Willamette Falls Locks are an old Army Corps property that a local entity has proposed redeveloping for the benefit of the local community. This redevelopment cannot take place until the Locks are “deauthorized” by the Army Corps. Senator Merkley successfully included a provision allowing the Corps—after performing upgrades and making the site suitable for use—to deauthorize and transfer the Locks to a local Commission.

Army Corps Assistance for Projects in Hood River, Bandon, and Astoria: Senator Merkley successfully included a provision that will require the Army Corps to assist local communities in Oregon with preparing for their 7001 consultation process. This is the first step to being included in the Army Corps’ 7001 Report, which enables the project to be federally authorized and funded.

The local projects that will be assisted by this provision are:

  • Hood River Salmon Recovery: Study existing habitat conditions and recommend actions that will improve salmon habitat functions at the mouth of the Hood River and its confluence with the Columbia River.
  • Dredging at the Coquille River/Port of Bandon: Study how the Corps can assist the Port of Bandon with an increase in silting and shoaling adjacent to, but outside of, the federal channel, which is currently dredged by the Corps.
  • Dredging at the Port of Astoria: Study the capability of the Corps to increase the frequency and depth of its dredging of the Port to allow the Port to focus on its landside infrastructure.

Helping Small Communities Move Army Corps Projects Forward: Many small and disadvantaged communities want to implement Corps-related projects, but don’t have the resources to meet local cost-sharing requirements. This provision establishes a cost-waiver program under which communities who need it can get local cost share reduction of anywhere from 10 to 100 percent, allowing many more communities to implement or construct beneficial projects, including for storm damage reduction.

Addressing Microplastics Pollution: Microplastics and microfibers have become ubiquitous in our water supply, threatening both human health and our environment. Building off of his previous bipartisan work to address the microplastics crisis, Senator Merkley was able to successfully include a provision in today’s bill to create a grant program that will begin to tackle this urgent public health threat. This $10 million grant program will provide funding to wastewater treatment plants that want to improve their facilities to reduce and remove microplastics and microfibers from their treated water.

Cutting Red Tape to Help Local Communities Access WIFIA Loans: Senator Merkley created the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to help local communities access affordable financing for water infrastructure projects, after hearing from local leaders across Oregon about the difficulty of securing affordable loans for these essential projects. In today’s legislation, Senator Merkley successfully included a provision that will make it easier for smaller communities to access WIFIA loans, by removing an overly burdensome requirement that WIFIA applicants provide two credit rating letters. Getting a second letter is often a time-consuming and unnecessary expense for applicants that lengthens the application process. Today’s provision instead changes the requirement to one opinion letter sufficient to determine creditworthiness, smoothing the application process and making it easier for local communities to move ahead with projects that will provide critical water infrastructure updates and create jobs at the same time.

Helping Small and Underserved Communities Access Water Efficiency Upgrades: Many small or disadvantaged communities have trouble accessing—or, in some cases, are barred from accessing—federal programs to help them with water efficiency measures. Senator Merkley successfully included a provision to create a grant program specifically designed to help entities like this replace or repair equipment designed to improve water efficiency. This program would help smaller and underserved communities in Oregon and across America access badly needed resources to make these upgrades to water systems.

Using Leftover Dredging Material to Help Local Communities: Dredged materials are left over after the Corps constructs a new project or dredges a harbor or channel. This provision requires that the Corps evaluate the environmental benefits and impacts of reusing that material to create natural infrastructure.

Investing in Alternative Wastewater Systems: This provision reauthorizes a grant program that helps entities with the engineering, design, and construction of alternative water source projects, including anything that improves the conservation, management, reclamation, or reuse of water, stormwater, or wastewater. This program helps to conserve water resources across the nation and to invest in new strategies that could assist with water conservation and reuse in the decades to come.


Oregon Governor Wants To Cancel Water Transfer For Nestle

 , Earth Fix

October 27, 2017

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has asked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to withdraw its application for a water rights transfer with the city of Cascade Locks.

The transfer is a key part of Nestle’s plans to build at $50 million water bottling plant in Cascade Locks

Last year, Hood River County passed a ballot measure banning all commercial water bottling. It was an attempt to block Nestle from moving forward.

But the city of Cascade Locks hasn’t given up on Nestle. City leaders say they still want the economic boost the bottling plant would bring.

So, they’ve continued to pursue a water rights transfer with the state to help Nestle gain access to valuable spring water.

The transfer would allow the city to access up to 225 gallons per minute from Oxbow Springs to sell to Nestle and replace that water from its municipal source.

Now, the governor wants Oregon to back out of the deal.

In a letter to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Curt Melcher sent Friday, Brown said the ballot measure prohibiting commercial water bottling makes the ultimate goal of the water exchange uncertain.

She noted that the state has already spent “significant resources, including legal costs” on the exchange application and expects to spend more money and staff resources on “expected challenges and court appeals.”

“I find it irresponsible to incur additional significant state costs for an uncertain outcome,” she wrote. “I am asking that you withdraw the ODFW exchange application.”

The governor also wrote that she is directing state resources toward economic development in Cascade Locks, which she said is “more important than ever in the wake of the devastating Eagle Creek fire.”

The Eagle Creek Fire burned around 50,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge this summer, and dampened tourism to towns like Cascade Locks for months.



From the EPA:

SEATTLE and CHICAGO, OCT 17, 2017 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $43M to water systems in Oregon, Washington, and Ohio.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality was awarded nearly $2 million to protect water quality through a Nonpoint Source Program Clean Water Act (Section 319) cooperative agreement. This grant is given to states to implement environmental programs that address nonpoint source pollution in surface and groundwater in order to meet and maintain water quality standards.

“Providing funds directly to Oregon is an excellent example of EPA partnering with states to help address their unique and critical environmental challenges,” said EPA Administrator Pruitt. “EPA is making investments like this grant to help empower states who know best how to protect resources, and grow their economy while solving real environmental problems in local communities.”

Under this program, a total of 23 proposals were selected, including continuous water quality monitoring and flow data.

“This EPA funding helps ensure many more miles of Oregon’s rivers, lakes and streams will enjoy the protections they deserve,” said ODEQ Director Richard Whitman. “These kinds of projects give local restoration efforts the helping hand needed to make a positive and meaningful difference where people live, work and play…around water!”

In Washington, over $41 million was awarded to the state’s clean water and drinking water revolving funds to help finance improvements to water projects that will reduce water pollution, improve municipal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, make projects more sustainable by increasing water and energy efficiency, and provide technical assistance to communities.

A total of $550,000 was also awarded to the Lorain County (Ohio) Board of Commissioners for projects that will improve water quality in the Black River Area of Concern on Lake Erie. The Black River AOC is on the binational list of toxic hotspots that have been targeted for cleanup under the U.S.-Canadian Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The funding is a supplemental award to an existing grant of $600,000, increasing the total amount to just over $1 million.

“As Administrator, I’m committed to improving environmental conditions and human health for the 30 million Americans who live and work in the Great Lakes region,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is working closely with state and local partners to advance our shared goal to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.”

“This grant award continues the County’s and its partners’ commitment to manage its resources and improve the environment culminating in the goal of having our river no longer be listed as an AOC. The Black River’s improved water quality has it online to complete all management actions in 2019,” said Lori Kokoski, Lorain County Board President

Learn more at


Algae health alert for Upper Klamath, Agency lakes

POSTED: 4:42 PM PDT July 28, 2015   KTVZ

Oregon Health Authority issued a health advisory Tuesday due to algae-caused toxins at levels that could pose a risk to human health in Upper Klamath Lake and Agency Lake, located just north of Klamath Falls along Highway 97 in Klamath County.

Continuous cold water conditions in Pelican Bay have prevented blue-green algae from growing there, so Pelican Bay is not included in this advisory, officials said.

Routine water monitoring by the U.S. Geological Survey has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae toxins. These toxins, called cyanotoxins, are present at concentrations in the water that can be harmful to humans and animals.

In areas covered by the advisory, swallowing or inhaling water droplets should be avoided. Drinking water directly from Upper Klamath or Agency lakes is especially dangerous. Skin contact with the algae can also cause rashes in individuals with sensitive skin.

Oregon Public Health officials advise campers and other recreational visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters.

People who draw in-home water directly from Upper Klamath or Agency lakes are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective at removing algae toxins.


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However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people on public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier.

Oregon health officials recommend that people who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, because toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues.

Public health officials also advise that people not eat freshwater clams or mussels from Upper Klamath or Agency lakes and that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations do not allow the harvest of these shellfish from freshwater sources. Crayfish muscle can be eaten, but internal organs and liquid fat should be discarded.

Exposure to toxins can produce symptoms of numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems, and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen.

Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity.

The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists, officials said.

With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.

For local information, contact Sara Eldridge with the USGS at 541-273-8689 extension 203. For health information or to report an illness, contact the Oregon Health Authority at 971-673-0400.

OHA maintains an updated list of all health advisories on its website. To find out if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific water body, visit or call the Oregon Public Health Division toll-free information line at 1-877-290-6767.

Oakridge imposes California-like water restrictions, effective immediately

By Diane Dietz
The Register-Guard
JULY 29, 2015

City residents can’t water their lawns, fill up swimming pools or wash cars in their driveways as of Tuesday.

The Oakridge City Council voted unanimously to impose water restrictions after reviewing data on the community’s No. 1 well that showed water levels 23 feet below normal for this time of year.

“If our wells are not replenishing themselves at the normal rate, then the chances of us depleting the wells is that much greater,” City Administrator Louis Gomez said.

Under the restrictions, residents still can water gardens and plants — other than lawns — but only for 20 minutes every other day.

Repeat violators can face $250 fines, which escalate to $500 fines on the fourth violation — and could result ultimately in the city shutting the violator’s water service, under the newly adopted ordinance.

Oakridge is the second city in Oregon — behind Junction City — to impose mandatory water use restrictions on residents in the midst of the current multiyear drought.

About a dozen Oregon cities adopted voluntary use restrictions in recent months, including Lake Oswego, Molalla, Keizer and Bend.

On Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered state agencies to institute water conservation measures aimed at reducing their consumption by 15 percent in about five years.

The governor said water shortages will be the “new normal” under climate change.

The Oakridge restrictions are reminiscent of those that Californians have endured since April when Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a wide-ranging, mandatory curtailment.

That spurred some whacky social practices, such as home­owners spray-painting yellowing lawns bright green and vigilantes documenting water violations via cellphone and turning in their neighbors.

Some of Oakridge’s 1,550 households may react in similar ways, said Gomez, who previously was the city’s police chief.

“There may be one or two (such reactions). It won’t surprise me,” he said. “Remember, we deal with the human condition every day. That’s unpredictable.”

Oakridge hasn’t faced similar drought conditions in four decades, Gomez said, and the seriousness this summer required swift action.

“Are we out of water? No,” he said, “but we don’t want to take that risk.”

Gomez said police officers and public works officials will first warn and try to educate homeowners through visits, door hangers and certified letters.

“We’re not going to be jumping on anyone today. We’re trying to get the message out,” he said.

Oakridge’s restrictions still allow watering vegetable and ornamental plants for 20 minutes during morning or evening hours every other day based on a city-designed schedule.

If the water levels in city wells continue to fall, a stricter set of curtailments may take affect, such as cutting the allowed plant watering time to 10 minutes. “We’ll reassess in a couple weeks,” Gomez said.

In the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area, meanwhile, with a string of 100-degree days ahead and low flows in Lane County rivers, the Eugene Water & Electric Board is likely to ask its customers to be a little more aggressive about curtailing water use.

The utility has a blue-green-orange graded scheme for reduced water usage. If the utility moves, as predicted, to orange in the coming days, these will be the voluntary measures it will ask:

Limit water use only to those tasks necessary for human health and safety.

Temporarily refrain from watering lawns and landscapes.

Use the EWEB green grass gauge to give vegetables just enough water.

Avoid washing personal and business vehicles except at car washes that recycle water.

Avoid filling or replenishing swimming pools.

Refrain from using pressure washers, except for construction.

Delay washing sidewalks or driveways.

“Reducing water use will keep as much water in the river for fish and other aquatic life, as well as other downstream users,” EWEB spokesman Joe Harwood said.

The Springfield Utility Board, meanwhile, will insert a plea for conservation in next month’s bills. It’s a normal thing to ask in the dead of summer.

“So far our production levels are looking normal for the year,” a SUB spokeswoman said. SUB draws from wells in the Springfield area.


For households

All Oakridge homes west of Crestview Street can water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; homes east of Crestview Street can water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Restrict all garden and plant watering to 20 minutes a day

Eliminate any use of water from a fire hydrant except for fighting fires, or emergency applications and water quality requirements

No initial filling or refilling of a swimming pool

No washing of any motorbike, motor vehicle, boat, trailer, airplane, or other vehicle, except at a commercial fixed washing facility

No use of nonrecycled water in a fountain or pond for aesthetic or scenic purposes except where necessary to support fish life

No person or customer shall cause or permit water to run to waste in any gutter or drain

Watering allowed only during evening or early morning hours when demand is lower

For businesses

No use of water for dust control on graveled parking lots, structures or construction sites

No use of water from hydrants except for firefighting and water quality requirements

City reserves the right to set a limit of 85 percent consumption on individual businesses, based on the severity of the situation as well as current and past consumption habits

The largest consumers in the city’s service area will be contacted and possible ways to reduce water consumption will be discussed on an individual basis


U.S. Drought Monitor:

Oregon drought:


Panel adopts Oregon water strategy


Capital Press

For the first time in its history, Oregon has a guideline for meeting its future water needs.

The Oregon Water Resources Commission on Aug. 2 adopted the Oregon Integrated Water Resources Strategy, the state’s first ever long-range plan for its water resources.

The Oregon Water Resources Department, along with several partners, has been working on the strategy for three years. Working partners included several state agency and private organization representatives. The department aired drafts of the plan and took comments in several public hearings around the state.

The Oregon Legislature in 2009 directed the department to develop the plan, which OWRD Director Phil Ward characterized as a blueprint to help the state meet its present and future water needs.

Objectives identified in the strategy include understanding and meeting Oregon’s instream and out-of-stream needs.

Recommended actions include:

* Increasing water-use efficiency and water conservation.

* Improving access to built storage.

* Improving watershed health.

* Taking advantage of existing infrastructure to develop hydroelectric power.

* Encouraging regional approaches to water and wastewater systems.

* Funding development and implementation of the strategy.

The commission voted unanimously to adopt the plan.


Food & Water Watch Applauds Introduction of Federal Trust Fund for Clean Water Infrastructure

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

Washington, D.C. — “With U.S. clean water systems requiring some $187.9 billion over the next 20 years, and federal funding for these essential systems falling behind, we applaud Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) for introducing the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act. Food & Water Watch has advocated for this vital legislation for over six years.

“The Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund is expect to raise $9 billion a year and will be distributed to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds. These funding sources include:

o    A three cent tax on the containers of water-based beverages in aseptic, glass, cans, plastic, or other sealed packages that are five gallons or less, not including alcoholic beverages, milk, or juice from concentrate.

o    A three percent wholesale tax on disposable products normally flushed or disposed of through sewer systems, such as soaps, detergents, toiletries, toilet tissue, water softeners, and cooking oils.

o    A 0.5 percent wholesale tax on pharmaceutical products.

“Clean water systems are essential to healthy communities, yet are often taken for granted. Many of our nation’s clean water systems are over 100 years old, and in dire need of repair. Funding for clean water is falling behind system needs – to the tune of some $22 billion a year – and as a result, many municipalities are struggling to meet federal clean water standards and to maintain and modernize their clean water systems. The consequences of coping with aging water systems include sewage spills that render our water unsafe for drinking, swimming, fishing and wildlife.

“Because we cannot always rely on Congress or the president to allocate money to water infrastructure projects, we need to create a dedicated source of federal funding for waste water infrastructure. The Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund will do just that. We look forward to working with Representative Blumenauer to make sure this vital legislation is as strong as it can be, and that it is passed by Congress and enacted into law.”

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.


Seantors Merkley and Wyden and Governor Kitzhaber Announce Crooked River Water Agreement

Targeted News Service

WASHINGTON, July 31 — The office of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., issued the following news release:

Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Governor Kitzhaber today announced that an agreement on water allocation from the Crooked River in Central Oregon has been made between a broad coalition of stakeholders in the region. Legislation will be introduced later this week by Senator Merkley with Senator Wyden joining as a cosponsor.

“This bill ends 40 years of fighting and paralysis over water in the Prineville Reservoir. This is historic and a great opportunity for economic growth in the Crooked River region,” said Senator Merkley. “I thank all the stakeholders for their unflagging efforts to develop this agreement. This bill provides many benefits: the City of Prineville will have access to additional water that’s critical to support new industries; local farmers and ranchers will get more secure and expanded access to irrigation water; and additional water would be available to support fish and wildlife, including the world-class fly fishery and newly reintroduced steelhead. On top of all that, Oregon continues its leadership in clean renewable energy by taking a step toward new hydropower production on the Crooked River. I look forward to working with all the partners in Central Oregon to get this done.”

“This legislation is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. I especially want to recognize Senator Merkley, who has been tireless in building consensus among all the parties involved in this issue. The result represents the best Oregon tradition of working together to find a solution to the competing demands for water in the Crooked River,” Senator Wyden said. “This bill will provide certainty for the City of Prineville, the irrigation districts, the Warm Springs Tribes, and conservation interests that their primary needs will be addressed in good water years and bad. There is now a path forward that leads to both economic growth for the community and the protection of fish and wildlife.”

“The Crooked River basin is one of Oregon’s truly special places, and its water is central to the health of its people and environment,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “This legislation not only represents a victory for the basin’s economy, communities, fish, wildlife and native people, but also for Oregonians across the state. I am grateful for the hard work and leadership of a lot of committed stakeholders who have demonstrated Oregon’s ability to find common ground that incorporates our environmental, economic, and cultural values.”

The legislation announced today will provide numerous benefits to water users and the Central Oregon region, by:

* Providing the City of Prineville with a dependable supply of water to support growth into the foreseeable future;

* Ensuring a reliable supply of water to farmers who use water from Prineville Reservoir and McKay Creek for irrigation;

* Enhancing the ability to manage water flows in the Crooked River to improve habitat for the benefit of fish, and improving fish habitat in McKay Creek;

* Providing the ability to install a hydroelectric turbine on Bowman Dam.

The following groups were engaged in the negotiations and endorse the legislation:

American Rivers

“Senators Merkley and Wyden brought together all sides to find a solution that strikes a balance for water users and the environment while improving conditions for the fish and wildlife that rely on the Wild and Scenic Crooked River,” said Brett Swift with American Rivers.

City of Prineville

“This legislative agreement on the Crooked River is welcome news for Prineville,” said Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe. “It ensures our residents as well as our local farmers, businesses, and new businesses like Apple and Facebook, will have a secure water supply for the future. We’re also pleased with the restoration measures to improve fish and wildlife habitat in the Crooked River.”

Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

“The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs strongly support Senators Merkley and Wyden’s legislation, which is a landmark victory for both farmers and fish,” said Warm Springs Chief Delvis Heath. “By adding more water to the Crooked River for fish, this legislation will boost the health and resilience of salmon and steelhead in the Crooked River and the entire Deschutes Basin. We believe this is a new model for approaching western water issues literally from the ground up. The Confederated Tribes sincerely thank Senators Merkley and Wyden, and their staff, for months of dedicated work with local stakeholders. ”

Crook County

“Our Governor, and two Senators, deserve credit for legislation that guarantees Crook County and our entire region has the necessary water to meet societal needs and for businesses, including our dynamic agricultural sector, to make capital investments, to sustain and create jobs, and benefit all of Central Oregon,” said Mike McCabe, Crook County Judge and Commissioner.

Deschutes Basin Board of Control (Representing all 7 major irrigation districts in Central Oregon)

“I want to recognize the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Portland General Electric Company for their commitment and leadership in this agreement,” said Steve Johnson, President, Deschutes Basin Board of Control. “All of us appreciate their work for an imaginative and sustainable agreement.”

Ochoco Irrigation District

“I commend Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, and Governor Kitzhaber, for taking a strong position in support of farmers and ranchers who rely upon the Crooked River to responsibly grow crops and raise livestock,” said Brian Barney, Chairman, Ochoco Irrigation District Board of Directors. “The Crooked River is a real part of our heritage, and we’re proud to work alongside all of them to improve it.”

Portland General Electric

“PGE strongly supports this effort to open Bowman Dam to hydropower development, which would provide Oregonians with a new source of clean, renewable electricity, as well as near-term job opportunities,” said Dave Robertson, PGE vice president of public policy. “We commend Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for introducing this legislation and for the work of the Governor and many stakeholders involved in coming to this agreement.”

Trout Unlimited

“Trout Unlimited strongly supports this bill, which encourages pragmatic, creative solutions and partnerships to help support Crooked River fisheries including steelhead,” Kate Miller of Trout Unlimited. “This bill provides a framework for how diverse interests–from tribes to irrigators to conservation groups and municipalities–can work together to meet our water needs while enhancing and restoring this amazing river. We all have a stake in preserving the health of the Crooked River, which sustains our quality of life as well as our local economies. This bill provides a shared vision for getting that done. ”


“This legislation provides significant improvements for fish and river habitat in the beloved Crooked River, and we are very happy that our Senators provided the leadership to strike a balance between many interests,” said Kimberley Priestley, Senior Policy Analyst for WaterWatch of Oregon. “We look forward to working with all those involved to ensure that the Crooked river, its fish and all who care about the river will reap the full benefits of this bill.”


State denies city request to delay covering reservoirs (Portland)

Decision means Portland Water Bureau must end use of Mt. Tabor and Washington park open-air reservoirs

By Steve Law

The Portland Tribune, May 18, 2012

The Oregon Health Authority has rejected the Portland Water Bureau’s request to delay covering open-air water reservoirs at Mt. Tabor and Washington parks.

The decision means Portland must end the use of the reservoirs by the end of 2020. Portland had requested an extension until 2026.

“We are very disappointed in this decision,” said bureau Administrator David Shaff in a prepared statement. “We made a case to the state that was very similar to the one made by New York City in successfully extending its reservoir compliance schedule. Oregon is clearly choosing a very different approach for administering federal drinking water rules.”

The Portland Water Bureau asked for the delay based on the challenges of managing several large design and construction projects by 2020, after a similar argument made by New York City was successful.

But the state health agency, which was given authority on this matter in 2009, as delegated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, isn’t buying that argument.

A letter from Dave Leland, manager of the state Drinking Water Program, criticized the city, saying “the proposed timing appears to reflect a suspension of effort to comply with the mandated regulation, rather than continuing, steady progress toward regulatory compliance.”


Governor Kitzhaber won’t stop Nestle water swap in Cascade Locks

Julie Raefield-Gobbo

April 30, 2012

While legal and public protests have been raised against Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife on water access issues for a proposed Nestlé bottling plant, Governor John Kitzhaber has been called upon by environmental groups to stop ODFW in its tracks. Kitzhaber’s Regional Solutions team arrived at the Cascade Locks Joint Committee for Economic Development meeting on April 25 for a discussion on the status of the proposal from Nestlé to build the plant in Cascade Locks.The team leader, Annette Liebe, also brought a critical message from the Governor.

Liebe, RS regional coordinator for Hood River County, confirmed earlier in the day during an interview with the News that Kitzhaber has decided not to take a position on a pending legal protest pertaining to the water rights exchange involving the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The plant would ultimately tap both state-controlled spring water and city-controlled ground water.

Amy Wojcicki of the governor’s office confirmed his position on the water rights and exchange negotiations: “The governor will not be intervening and will let the process play out like it is intended.”

The RS team included representatives from ODOT, Oregon Water Resources Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Business Development Office. They spoke before the mayor, two city council members, two port commissioners and port and city staff.

Each RS team member confirmed their agency’s commitment to execute the steps necessary to support the city’s negotiations with Nestlé and to solve challenges that arise across agencies along the way. The first and foremost challenge involving state agencies would be a required water rights exchange.

To proceed, the Nestlé project would require two procedural steps involving ODFW, the state agency that currently holds the water right to Oxbow Springs – one of the two water sources of interest to Nestlé. The city of Cascade Locks holds the right to the second source of Nestlé’s interest, city ground water.

ODFW transfer applications to the Oregon Water Resources Department requested two additional “points of diversion” on their existing water rights which will enable a split of their 10 cubic feet per second water right into two portions – one at 9.5 cfs and one at .5 cfs. The applications also made correction to the location of ODFW’s current water source draw-point – which protestors allege does not currently match documents on file with the OWRD.

Step two would require an approval of an exchange of the smaller of the now-divided portions of the ODFW water right (equating to 0.5 cfs) with the city of Cascade Locks, ultimately leading to an availability of both watersoruces to the city, thereby enabling a sale to Nestlé.

A preliminary determination was issued by OWRD to correct the draw-point location and allow the additional points of diversion (splitting the right). Two legal challenges were then filed on March 29 against that determination on behalf of the non-profit organizations Bark and Food and Water Watch.

The first protest addresses alleged damages to “other water users” if the diversion-split is allowed – focusing on the public nature of ODFW waters and public-user claims to that water.

The second, and more serious allegation, contends that ODFW has forfeited its rights altogether for Oxbow Springs water based on the mismatch between its actual in-use draw-point and the documented, legally authorized draw-point allocated to the ODFW hatchery.

Michael Ladd, regional manager for the Oregon Water Resources Department and Regional Solutions team member, spoke first after Liebe’s introductions.

According to Ladd, OWRD is analyzing the data filed in the protest.

“If their claim proves to be true,” said Ladd, ODFW “water rights could be forfeited and lost.”

When asked by JCED members if this might mean a closure for the hatchery, Ladd confirmed that would be a possible consequence, stating, “This is a very serious allegation.”

Ladd went on to state that OWRD has “quite a bit of experience dealing with these types of protests.”

If ultimately permitted, the water rights exchange between ODFW and the City of Cascade Locks would enable the city to sell water – originating from both sources and projected to be approximately 100 million gallons per year – to Nestlé.

Curt Melcher, deputy director for Oregon Fish and Wildlife, spoke next. He stated, “I think we will have water.”

He went on to say that ODFW “looks at the Nestlé proposal as a win-win” allowing improvements to the hatchery (through a water source redundancy during low-flow periods) and economic development for the community.

Oregon Business Department Director Carolyn Meece stated, “None of us are saying ‘Hey, let’s not work through the process … I’m treating this as a straight recruitment process.”

Meece, in response to a reporter’s question on possible available resources for city use in preparing for a contract, said that if gaps arose in the city’s project funding the state might “be able to take a look at” ways to assist.

Port Commissioner and meeting chair Jessie Groves responded by asking around the room, “Does anyone here feel we are not doing due diligence?”

In later discussion, Paul Koch, interim city administrator for Cascade Locks, offered encouragement for the JCED team to seek additional volunteers to serve on a fact-finding, due diligence sub-committee. He confirmed that neither he, nor Port General Manager Chuck Daughtry had sufficient staff time available to fulfill the requirements of due diligence research.

He and Daughtry later suggested that JCED, which opted not to recruit sub-committee volunteers, consider seeking a paid, contractual relationship with Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, who could conduct research on their behalf.

In the final report of the RS team, ODOT’s Brad DeHart, Region 4 operations engineer, spoke at length about traffic control issues related to Nestlé trucks transporting product from the industrial site.

He advised the group that truck length restrictions exist on WaNaPa Street, the preferred route through town and would have to be addressed. Additional concerns were focused on impacts to road infrastructure, entrance and exit ramps to I-84, safety issues at a railroad crossing, and constricted turn lanes.

Following DeHart’s presentation and the RS team’s departure, the JCED meeting continued on with a presentation from Cascade Locks City Light Superintendent Tracy Hupp.

Hupp reviewed several concerns related to power consumption for the Nestlé site and the potential impacts on rates. He advised that Cascade Locks receives all of its power from Bonneville Power Administration and currently pays preferred rates.

Hupp confirmed that the utility is using about one-third of its capacity. He then added that servicing Nestlé or any large industrial user will push the utility into Tier 2 rate levels. He voiced concerns about charging rates that would cause the utility to “go into the hole.” He also warned: “We have no control over” market costs for power.

Additional discussion followed on options for the city to self-generate power and whether the BPA contract would preclude that. Some discussion followed on purchasing the substation now owned by BPA or encouraging Nestlé to install a wind turbine.

As the meeting progressed, JCED members received operational guidance from Port Attorney Jerry Jaques and City Attorney Rueben Cleaveland. The group learned it must comply with public meeting and documents laws and must avoid forming a quorum of either city or port officials without advance public notice.

The next JCED meeting will be held May 24, 7 p.m. at Cascade Locks City Hall.