Project To Recharge Aquifers With Columbia River Water

Dec 3, 2012

There’s not enough water in eastern Oregon for farmers and fish. Gov. John Kitzhaber designated one basin as a place to try a possible solution to this problem. At the Oregon Leadership Summit Monday, farmers and environmentalists talked about what’s being done.

In some areas of the Umatilla Basin, aquifers have dropped 500 feet since the 1970s. But some farmers and environmentalists say they’ve come up with a better way to manage the area’s water supply.

Craig Reeder is the vice president at Hale Farms

“Oregon’s natural resource development and natural resource use over time, I think it's safe to say, has been overzealous at times.”

Reeder is helping lead an initiative that would draw water out of the Columbia River in the winter… When fish don’t need it. That water would replenish aquifers, then be used to irrigate crops in the spring and summer.

The initiative has faced pushback from farmers and environmentalists. But conservation groups working on the project say it will benefit endangered salmon by keeping more water in smaller tributaries.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio