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Oregon Water Resources Department seeks public input on disputed changes to groundwater allocation rules

Oregon Water Resources Department

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ)  — The Oregon Water Resources Department is updating the rules for new groundwater right applications and is seeking public input on proposed rules that have been developed with input from a Rules Advisory Committee.

OWRD said Friday will host four in-person public hearings - the first April 4 in Bend - and one virtual hearing to allow for the public to provide input.

The agency says current groundwater right permitting rules allow for aquifers to decline beyond what nature can replace and do not consider long-term or cumulative impacts on surface water.

"Addressing the long-term impacts of groundwater use requires updating the rules for reviewing new water right applications," the agency said, adding, "These new rules will only apply to new water right applications and not to existing or permit-exempt water users."

Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch is among Central Oregon officials who have expressed concern about the proposed change in groundwater rules and the challenges it would pose for local governments required to plan for 20 years of growth.

To provide the best opportunity for members of the public to provide input, OWRD will also be hosting informational sessions before each public hearing where staff will review the proposed rules. Public comments will not be accepted at the information sessions but will be accepted at the public hearings following each session.

For more context, please see the background informationinformational flyer, and Frequently Asked Questions.

The public is encouraged to attend the informational sessions and provide comments about the rulemaking, either verbally at the scheduled public hearings or via written comment by 5 p.m. on May 31, 2024. Written comments can be submitted by email to:

WRD_DL_rule-coordinator@water.oregon.gov

or by mail:

Laura Hartt – Rulemaking Coordinator
Oregon Water Resources Department
725 Summer St. N.E. Suite A Salem, OR 97301-1271

Details on Information Sessions and Public Hearings

CENTRAL OREGON

Date: Thursday, April 4
Information Session: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Public Hearing: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Deschutes Services Building, 1300 NW Wall Street, Bend, OR 97703 

EASTERN OREGON

Date: Thursday, April 18
Information Session: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Public Hearing: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Eastern Oregon University, Hoke Student Union Building, Room 339, 1 University Blvd., La Grande, OR 97850

SOUTHERN OREGON

Date: Thursday, May 16
Information Session: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Public Hearing: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Jackson County Auditorium, 7520 Table Rock Rd., Central Point, OR 97502

SALEM AND VIRTUAL

Date: Tuesday, May 21
Information Session: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Public Hearing: 7-9 p.m.
Location: Both in-person and virtual
In-person: Oregon Water Resources Department, North Mall Office Building, Room 124, 725 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
Virtually (via Zoom): Information Session Registration Link              
Virtually (via Zoom): Public Hearing Registration Link

Alternatively, you may email WRD_DL_rule-coordinator@water.oregon.gov no later than noon on May 21, 2024, to receive the registration link via email.

Phone: 253-205-0468 (please email WRD_DL_rule-coordinator@water.oregon.gov no later than noon on May 21, 2024, to receive the conference ID and passcode).

If you have questions or need to request accommodations in advance of one of the scheduled meetings, please contact WRD_DL_rule-coordinator@water.oregon.gov or 971-720-0963.

The Oregon Water Resources Department is the state agency charged with studying, allocating, and distributing water in Oregon.  Visit www.oregon.gov/owrd.

Article Topic Follows: Environment

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