The Harney County Watershed Council and the Harney County Court are co-convening a collaborative, community-based water planning effort that will examine water needs in Harney County and develop a strategic plan to meet those needs. We invite you to join this important effort and have a voice in defining Harney County’s water future. The need for local, collaborative water planning was identified in the statewide Integrated Water Resources Strategy and is being supported by a grant from the Oregon Water Resources Department.
Click here to view all Community Based Water Planning meeting materials.
For more information you can contact our Project Manager:
Water Availability Work Group: September 20, 2017 @ 5pm – The Community Center, 484 N. Broadway, Burns
Water challenges in our basin:
- Surface water resources are highly variable from month to month and year to year, making them hard to manage.
- Groundwater development has led to declines and shortages in some areas.
- Without water, we can’t sustain our local industries, including hay and cattle, support the people in our rural communities, or sustain healthy populations of fish and wildlife.
- A recent study found naturally high levels of arsenic in some wells, which could pose a health risk.
- The high desert marshes and meadows, which sustain wildlife and are a critical intercontinental stop for migratory birds on the Pacific flyway, are impacted by how we manage our land and water.
- There is concern that we are using more water than is returning to the system, which may lead to long-term impacts on all water users in the basin. A concern worsened by back-to-back drought years.
In June 2016 the Harney County Watershed Council received a grant from the Oregon Water Resources Department to lead a collaborative water planning effort to address water challenges and plan for a sustainable water future.
Defining our water future
Through this effort, a diverse group of partners will work together to:
- Better understand our current water system, including surface water and groundwater.
- Determine our current and future water needs, looking at needs of out-of stream uses (drinking water and irrigation) as well as instream uses (for fish).
- Identify and prioritize non-regulatory strategies, actions, and projects that can help us:
- More effectively balance water uses between many different water needs.
- Promote conservation and efficiencies in water use.
- Maximize the value of each unit of water that is put to use.
- Ensure adequate, clean water supplies for people, the economy, and the environment.
A new approach
The Malheur Lake Basin is one of four areas that is piloting a new approach to water planning with the Oregon Water Resources Department. This approach, which was recommended in Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy, gives communities a greater voice in determining their water future. During the pilot phase local groups will partner with state agencies to test a set of draft planning guidelines, identify best practices, and improve the process. This is our opportunity to chart a new path forward for our community and the state.
Read what members of the community are saying about water in Harney County – click here.
|Council member Diane Rapaport is writing a personal blog about water issues in the Harney Basin||The Future of Harney County’s Water
https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/the-future-of-harney-countys-water/The Future of Harney County Water: Well Complaints
https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/the-future-of-harney-county-water-well-complaintHarney County’s Water Future: MESA and LESA Irrigation Systems