A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Friday, September 1, 2017

Draining Oregon Redux

The Draining Oregon reporting team of Kelly House (now with Meyer Memorial Trust), and “geoviz whiz” Mark Graves won a first place National Headliners Award in April, 2017.

Videographer extraordinaire Teresa Mahoney won the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association's annual competition in the multimedia category for her video connected to the Draining Oregon story in July, 2017.

And in August, 2017 the Draining Oregon reporting team was mentioned as a Finalist 2017 Explanatory Reporting, Medium Newsroom.

The University of Denver Water Law Review published a great summary on August 24, 2017 - Oregon Groundwater: Is There Enough?  A couple of suggestions to move forward included “Another potential response is to adopt a more stringent cap of total water use where users can buy and sell water rights, similar to the common practice in Australia. Oregon could also choose to charge a per-gallon fee on owners of water rights.” This latter approach is being tried in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.

I was contacted by The Oregonian about what has been the outcomes since the Draining Oregon series ran in 2016. Quite a lot actually. First, the Oregon Water Resources Department designated a few new areas, including a “Serious Water Management Problem” in the Walla Walla Basin in Northeastern Oregon. The Greater Harney Valley is designated as a "Groundwater Area of Concern". These designations are somewhat new and apparently as they are not as formal as a Groundwater Limited Area or a Critical Groundwater Area, as defined by the Oregon Water Resources Commission. 

Michael “Aquadoc” Campana is volunteering to work with the folks in Harney County to see if a Groundwater Management District might be an option for the basin – a first for Oregon. He will be discussing this option more fully at the AWRA Annual Conference slated for early November, 2017 in Portland.

One of my graduate students is exploring the notion of developing an Aquifer Contract for the Harney Basin as part of their joint JD/MS in Water Policy and Management. This is something that is being practiced in Morroco. 

I mentioned the crazy idea of looking offshore for previously untapped freshwater reserves as part of a new research center devoted to Coastal and Ocean Aquifers potentially connected to the OSU Marine Studies Initiative.

And then, there is the new game that I am developing to join the long list of Serious Gaming in Water!

Extraordinary coverage for the least appreciated part of the hydrologic cycle! 

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"He that has satisfied his thirst turns his back on the well.”