Water Resources Professional Project Reports

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The water resource challenges in the Deschutes Basin of central Oregon are enormous. The human population there is growing faster than anywhere else in Oregon in a basin with almost 50 percent Federal land. It is home to a primarily service economy and renowned outdoor recreational opportunities. Surface water resources are fully allocated and municipalities are looking to limited groundwater supplies to fulfill increased demands. Agriculture accounts for 95 percent of the water use where up to 50 percent of the water delivered is lost to leakage frome open, unlined delivery canals. Not only have the resources of the Basin been used to the limit by the human population, but there are tribal, federal and environmental interests committed to augmenting current levels of streamflows to benefit water quality and fisheries in the Basin. Four strategies to manage the water resources are presented: A) requiring mitigation for new groundwater pumping permits; B) reallocation of water rights by creating a market for sale and leases of water rights and mitigation credits; C) municipal and agricultural water conservation projects; and D) a regional commitment to use collaborative processes to derive new solutions. The first three strategies can create measurable differences in the way water resources are used. The requirement of mitigating new groundwater pumping by implementing some form of surface water conservation project will drive reallocation of water rights and mitigation credits and conservation projects into fruition. The fourth strategy of collaborative stakeholder processes provides the underpinning for the first three strategies to succeed and the source of future strategies, which in the end can result in fewer court ordered solutions to the resource issues in this Basin. While no outcome is guaranteed, there is no doubt that innovative water resource management strategies are here to stay in this Basin.

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Water resources development--Oregon--Deschutes River Watershed--Planning, Water conservation--Oregon--Deschutes River Watershed--Planning., Integrated water development--Oregon--Deschutes River Watershed--Planning.


A Professional Project Report Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources Policy/Management Option Water Resources Program, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico,August 2003