U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has introduced a jobs plan in the House of Representatives that delivers needed water to Prineville for job creation, clears the way for carbon-free energy at Bowman Dam, and creates new water conservation opportunities in central Oregon.
The Central Oregon Jobs and Water Security Act (H.R. 2060), introduced last night, is a no-cost piece of legislation.
"This small act could be huge for central Oregon," Rep. Walden said. "The commonsense solutions in this plan have the potential to support hundreds of new jobs in a part of the state that needs jobs as badly as anywhere in the entire country. Its no-cost price tag for the taxpayer is the kind of bill that Congress should be passing in the current economic environment. I look forward to working with the House Natural Resources Committee to move this bill along the legislative process."
Job-supporting water for Prineville
The legislation would allow the city of Prineville to utilize 5,100 acre feet of water to meet future growth needs and allow it to attract new job-creating business opportunities similar to the Facebook servers, which recently came online in Prineville.
Prineville does not access water directly from Prineville Reservoir -- it uses groundwater. The extra 5,100 acre feet credit in the bill would allow the city to mitigate an increase of groundwater use with a release of up to 5,100 acre feet from the reservoir. Currently, there is about 80,000 acre feet of un-contracted water in the Reservoir.
The extra allocation for Prineville means the minimum release of water from Bowman Dam will increase by up to 7 cubic-feet per second (cfs). In dry years, particularly in the winter, this higher release requirement could benefit fish and wildlife, including the blue-ribbon trout fishery below Bowman Dam.
The water allocation for Prineville will also help the city create jobs and improve business opportunities. The city is currently in talks with multiple technology companies that are interested in locating to Prineville, but have indicated that the availability of water is a key consideration in their final decision.
Crook County's unemployment rate of 15.3 percent is the highest in the state.
"Prineville should have the necessary tools to assist in creating jobs and attracting new economic opportunities," Rep. Greg Walden said. "This small amount of water will help do just that."