Kitzhaber Signs Water Eastern Oregon Water Plan

Feb 15, 2013

Governor John Kitzhaber signed a plan that will move several eastern Oregon water projects one step forward.

The Umatilla Basin has seen some of the largest groundwater declines in the developing world. Aquifers have dropped 500 feet since the 1970s.

Now Gov. John Kitzhaber – along with farmers, conservationists and tribal members – has signed an agreement that will help bring more water to the basin.

Richard Whitman is with the Governor’s Natural Resources Office.

“We’ve had a tough time getting people to work together in this particular area, so to have that broad a set of interests come together and agree on particular projects is really unprecedented," Whitman says.

A major part of the plan would pump water into the area from the Columbia River in the winter. The water would be stored for use in irrigating crops. It would also create more habitat for salmon.

The group is also considering water storage projects at Wallowa Lake and Juniper Canyon.

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