Reclamation Funds Study for Sustainable Water Management in Oregons Upper Deschutes Basin

center_img Facebook Email 0 Twitter The Department of the Interior announced that the Bureau of Reclamation will make $1.8 million available for comprehensive water studies addressing climate change options to three western river basins, including the Upper Deschutes Basin in Oregon. These studies will address basin-wide efforts to evaluate and address the effects of climate change and define options for meeting future water demands. The Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) said it was “extremely gratified” that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will fund a basin-wide study to find solutions for water supply and demand imbalances in the Upper Deschutes Basin.  “Many of the Basin’s current challenges trace back to the 19th Century, when agriculture was the primary focus in Central Oregon,” said Tod Heisler, executive director at the DRC. “DRC and its stakeholders have worked for decades to provide for the needs of communities, agriculture, recreational interests and the species that depend upon the river and its tributaries. This study is the next step, and we expect it to point the way to a long-term solution to restore needed flows to our streams.” DRC is a participating entity in the Basin Study Work Group, a consortium of local, state and federal government agencies, irrigation districts, conservation and recreational interests have been working together to address the complexities of water management in the Deschutes Basin. “Reclamation and its partners in the West have a long history of working together to evaluate and address the impacts to water availability in river basins,” said Reclamation’s Acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley. “In the face of climate change, changing snowpack, changing precipitation patterns and reduced water supplies, these comprehensive basin studies will assist in long-term planning goals for crucial water supplies and to help ensure a future of healthy habitats and communities.” Surface water in the Upper Deschutes Basin has been almost fully allocated since the early 1900s, and many stream reaches suffer from low flows at critical times of year. The study will examine strategies to meet minimum flow targets to help ensure that the ongoing effort to reintroduce steelhead trout and Chinook salmon in the basin will continue to be successful. The study builds upon past work to update groundwater and surface water models, develop a basin specific climate analysis, update supply and demand projections and identify specific actions that can be taken to resolve water issues in the basin. Basin Study results will be used to develop a long term basin-wide water management plan to guide sustainable water management actions in the future. The Upper Deschutes Basin brings together a diverse set of stakeholders to seek specific solutions for resolving water supply and demand imbalances for agriculture, municipal and environmental uses. Reclamation will collaborate with the Deschutes Basin Board of Control and the Basin Study workgroup. The federal funding comes through the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART Basin Study Program. WaterSMART provides leadership and tools to states and local communities to address current and potential imbalances between water supply and demand and to work toward sustainable solutions. Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided more than $200 million in competitively awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program. Other selected basins include the Upper Red River Basin Study in Oklahoma and the Missouri River Headwaters Basin in Montana. To see the full DOI news release visit Share.last_img read more