Harmful Groundwater Allocation Changes in Progress for the State of Oregon

flowing water, groundwater

At Clouser Drilling, we understand the importance of being educated and active in evolving developments in our industry. That includes state rules and legislation related to groundwater. We value sustainable and responsible, but beneficial, use of groundwater resources for all Oregonians. Rules for new (groundwater) water right permits are undergoing serious changes that we believe are a one-size fits all approach which will prohibit beneficial use, even in areas where sustainable water resources are available.

Due to political pressure, stemming from fears of overallocation, the Oregon Water Resources Department has effectively put a stop on all new Groundwater Permit applications for non-exempt use wells while they rewrite the current rules. These wells are most commonly used for agriculture, not to be confused with exempt use wells for residential homes. While denial of new permits may be necessary for sustainability in some regions, the proposed rules could affect the entire state regardless of regional capacity.

The Oregon Water Resource’s Rules Advisory Committee is currently drafting the reworked rules under the Groundwater Allocation Project. We believe certain drafted rules are flawed in a manner that may inappropriately deny new permits due to oversimplified/incorrect assumptions which are to be used in determining groundwater capacity. We are urging Oregon Water Resources to take the additional time needed in the rule making process for scientifically based policies, regardless of external pressure from interest groups to fast-track.

The impact of these changes as proposed could be significant in agriculturally dependent areas throughout the state. Most of these areas are outside of Josephine and Jackson County. As active members of the Oregon Groundwater Association, the below statement from their legislative committee outlines the observed flaws, subsequent impact, and avenues for public comment.

We urge you to educate yourself, develop your own opinions and to share them with your local representatives.