WaterWatch of Oregon
213 SW Ash Street, Suite 208
John DeVoe, Kimberley Priestley, Lisa Brown, Jim McCarthy, Molly Whitney, Nancy Drinnon
Lynn Palensky, Gary Hibler, Jeff Curtis, Mary Lou Soscia, Karl Anuta, Bryan Sohl, Bob Hunter, Matt Deniston, Jean Edwards, Paul Franklin, Jeff DeVore, Peter Paquet, Jeff Perrin, Dean Runyan, Elizabeth Wright
Since 1985, WaterWatch has pursued a single clear mission: To protect and restore flows in Oregon rivers to sustain the native fish, wildlife, and the people who depend on healthy rivers.
WaterWatch of Oregon ("WaterWatch") is a private, nonprofit river conservation organization founded in 1985 dedicated to protecting and restoring streamflows in Oregon's rivers for fish, wildlife, and the people who depend on healthy rivers. WaterWatch was one of the first, and remains one of the few, organizations dedicated solely to this objective in the American West.
WaterWatch has five primary programs. Three river basins - the Rogue, Deschutes and Klamath - are treated as Priority Basins. WaterWatch also addresses, on a statewide basis, climate change, growth, water allocation, water management and water use as they relate to river conservation through the Streamflow Program and the Water and Growth Program.
In the Rogue Basin, WaterWatch's Free the Rogue Campaign played an important role in the removal of four major dams from the Rogue and Elk Creek. This work reestablished one of the longest free flowing reaches of river in the West - 157 miles from the Lost Creek Project to the Pacific Ocean. WaterWatch negotiated to protect 800 cubic feet per second of water instream as part of the Savage Rapids Dam removal, the largest instream transfer in the West to date. Now that we have accomplished the major goals of the campaign, we are building on the momentum created by success and pushing other restoration projects in the basin. Currently, WaterWatch is involved in a variety of projects to remove fish passage barriers, protect and restore water instream and achieve greater water use efficiency in the basin to help restore streamflows in Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek.
In the Deschutes Basin, we partner with conservation groups, fly fishing clubs, whitewater rafting companies, local activists and river dependent businesses to protect and restore flows to the Deschutes and its tributaries, including the Metolius and Crooked Rivers. We also coordinate with watershed groups, local activists and other stakeholders to promote and implement ecologically appropriate water laws and policies and to ensure that Central Oregon's growth does not have a harmful effect on our rivers and streams. Because of the unique hydrology of the basin, much of our work in the Deschutes focuses on groundwater.
In the Klamath Basin, we work with various coalitions of conservation groups and Native American Tribes. Our overriding goal is to bring the demand for water back into balance with what nature can sustain. We also work to remove dams from the Klamath River and to ensure that basin restoration efforts are ecologically appropriate, scientifically based and move away from an approach that has been characterized as involving "macho law, combat biology and dirty politics." When possible, we work with progressive irrigators in the basin.
Through the Streamflow Program, WaterWatch monitors water allocation across Oregon as well as legislative and regulatory initiatives involving water, aquatic species, hydropower and other projects that can influence streamflows. In the Streamflow Program, we look for opportunities to protect and restore streamflows across the landscape and on ecologically significant streams and rivers. Much of our work in the state capital is carried out through the Streamflow Program, including our legislative work and our efforts to influence state water policy before the Oregon Water Resources Commission. The Streamflow program also addresses other projects such as the emerging project to remove Winchester Dam from the North Umpqua River.
The Water and Growth Program focuses on municipal water issues and the implications of growth on our rivers and aquifers. Through this program, WaterWatch promotes water conservation and improved water management as reliable, cost-effective sources of water supply that can meet many, if not all, of the new water demands resulting from population growth. The program also focuses on rivers where population growth is used to justify ecologically damaging projects. This program is currently very active in Oregon's implementation of a "fish persistence" standard we secured through the Legislature that requires sufficient flows for imperiled fish when municipalities develop certain water rights.
All of WaterWatch's programs recognize the profound challenges presented by climate change. All of our programs work to address these challenges. All programs also have media and outreach components where we formulate and spread effective messages to promote healthy rivers and build demand for balanced water policies and river conservation. Finally, all programs offer volunteer opportunities for committed volunteers, including research, writing, fieldwork and organizing opportunities.