Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today introduced the Crooked River Collaborative Water Security Act, which would provide a framework for water stability for all parties who use the Crooked River. This legislation is based on an agreement that the Senators facilitated among a broad coalition of stakeholders in the region.
"The heart of this legislation is about improving the economy in Central Oregon by allowing water certainty for all users who depend on and use the Crooked River," said Senator Merkley. "Whether it is water for agriculture, healthy streams for fishing or water capacity for new industry, this bill will ensure that all interests -- and the entire economy -- are benefitting."
"This bill offers a solution to the competing demands for water in the Crooked River and provides certainty for the City of Prineville, the irrigation districts, the Warm Springs tribe and conservation interests," said Senator Wyden. "Thanks to the hard work done to build a consensus among these stakeholders, there is now a path forward for economic growth and protection of fish and wildlife."
The legislation introduced today will provide numerous benefits to water users and the Central Oregon region, by:
Providing the City of Prineville with a dependable supply of water to support growth into the foreseeable future;
Ensuring a reliable supply of water to farmers who use water from Prineville Reservoir and McKay Creek for irrigation;
Enhancing the ability to manage water flows in the Crooked River to improve habitat for the benefit of fish, and improving fish habitat in McKay Creek;
Providing the ability to install a hydroelectric turbine on Bowman Dam.
The Crooked River Collaborative Water Security Act is endorsed by the following groups: American Rivers, City of Prineville, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Crook County, Deschutes Basin Board of Control (representing all seven major irrigation districts in Central Oregon), Ochoco Irrigation District, Portland General Electric, Trout Unlimited and WaterWatch.