Good for farmers, good for fish: Water solutions for our communities
The goal: Work across the Second District to bring together tribes, landowners, environmentalists, and local governments to develop solutions that are good for farmers, fish, and local comunities.
Rep. Walden's Central Oregon Jobs and Water Security Act (H.R. 2060) -- Passed the House by voice vote on June 5, 2012
1. Job-supporting water for Prineville. The legislation would allow the city of Prineville to utilize 5,100 acre feet of groundwater to meet existing and future demands, and allow it to attract new, sustainable businesses similar to the Facebook data center, which has created new jobs and sparked investment.
Prineville relies solely on groundwater. The legislation would allow the City to secure up to 5,100 acre-feet of “mitigation credits” from the new releases of stored water at the dam into the Crooked River. These supplies would also be protected from diversion by others, benefitting fish and wildlife habitat in the river. These new releases represent a small fraction of the 80,000 acre feet of un-contracted water stored annually in the Reservoir. The new releases will increase existing minimum releases by a total of 7 cubic feet per second (cfs) over the entire year. In dry years, particularly in the winter, this higher release requirement could benefit fish and wildlife, including the blue-ribbon trout fishery below Bowman Dam.
The water allocation for Prineville will also help the city create jobs and improve business opportunities. The city is currently in talks with multiple technology companies that are interested in locating to Prineville, but have indicated that the availability of water is a key consideration in their final decision.
2. Carbon free energy and hydropower jobs. A clerical error led to the boundary line of the Crooked River Wild and Scenic Area being drawn down the middle of Bowman Dam, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation dam and reservoir. Correcting the error requires congressional action. Moving the boundary line only ¼ mile downstream will allow a small-scale, private hydropower facility at the base of Bowman Dam to be constructed.
Construction of such a facility would employ about 50 skilled workers over the course of two construction seasons and would also provide approximately $140,000 in annual property tax revenues to Crook County. The hydropower facility may also resolve a “total dissolved gas” problem at Bowman Dam. This problem, which occurs at dams around the world, can impair fish and wildlife habitat. . The new facility could potentially alleviate this problem, improving habitat in the Crooked River.
3, McKay Creek restoration and other conservation efforts. Rep. Walden’s legislation would help spur the McKay Creek restoration project — which has stalled in recent years — by allowing Ochoco Irrigation District to deliver water to upper small family farms on McKay Creek. The restoration project would restore up to 11.2 cfs of water rights instream to McKay Creek. The project also improves flow during the early summer, a critical period for steelhead emergence and migration. This project is supported by numerous watershed councils and organizations including the Deschutes River Conservancy.
The legislation also allows the Ochoco Irrigation District to participate in the Conserved Water program under Oregon State law, whereby a minimum of 25 percent of the total amount of water conserved must be placed instream, forever, as part of the program. Right now, the Ochoco Irrigation District, because of limitations in its contract with the Bureau of Reclamation, is unable to participate in this program.
Greg Walden’s Bipartisan Oregon Water Resources Management Act
Already signed into law, the bill aids water conservation in central, southern and eastern Oregon.
Water for farms and fish in central Oregon. The Oregon Water Resources Management Act ensured the continuation of the Deschutes River Conservancy’s relationship with the federal government, which has already accomplished:
• 100 miles of stream restoration
• More than 250,000 plants and trees planted to improve habitat
• Increased Deschutes River flows to benefit endangered bull trout and summer steelhead
• Increased irrigated farmland while conserving water on the Crooked River
Improving safety at Wallowa Lake Dam. The Oregon Water Resources Management Act allows the Bureau of Reclamation to work with stakeholders in Wallowa County to resolve issues at the Wallowa Lake Dam.
Increased water capacity in southern Oregon. The regionally-supported Water for Irrigation, Streams, and the Economy (WISE) project will dramatically improve the water resources infrastructure within the Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek watersheds in Jackson County, increasing local water storage capacity and making reclaimed effluent available for use in agriculture.
Work on watersheds
Greg Walden has been a long-time supporter of watershed restoration efforts and the federal partnership that has helped these collaborative efforts throughout Oregon:
The Salmon Recovery Fund. Specifically, Greg has been a long-time supporter of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which helps facilitate recovery of Pacific salmon populations.
Supporting watershed councils. Greg has seen first hand the collaborative work undertaken by watershed councils to restore watersheds. He realizes how federal investment from the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, together with state and local resources, has led watershed councils to restore habitat on nearly 650,000 acres and open 4,299 miles of streams throughout Oregon.