Governor Kitzhaber joined today with members of the Columbia River Umatilla Solutions Taskforce to sign a Declaration of Cooperation on Columbia River-Umatilla Basin water projects. The Declaration outlines specific strategies for storing water for expanded agricultural use, increased economic activity in Eastern Oregon, and improved in-stream conditions for fish.
"This kind of collaborative project, supporting both agriculture and fisheries in the Umatilla Basin, is a good example of what we need to do to boost the economy in rural Oregon," said Governor Kitzhaber. "People with diverse interests have come together, found common ground, and developed a strategy that can benefit farms, salmon and new jobs in the region."
Taskforce members include irrigators, conservationists, and stakeholders representing local, regional, state, and tribal interests. Governor Kitzhaber formed the group through the Oregon Solutions Network in April 2012, and the group has been working since then to develop consensus recommendations on beneficial water projects in the region.
Their action plan includes developing additional water storage capacity, improving water management, and developing a regional, interstate approach with the State of Washington. The Taskforce has already identified specific projects that increase storage capacity.
Co-convener Dennis Doherty, Umatilla County Commissioner, praised the group's efforts. "The Taskforce showed that even with such a complex issue, people working together in good faith can accomplish a lot. Reaching this important milestone is just the beginning for supporting increased agriculture in the region."
For more information: http://orsolutions.org/osproject/crustaskforce.