WaterWatch of Oregon

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.
Jul 23, 2014

Your Support Makes Progress for Oregon's Rivers Possible

Your support protects and restores streamflows in Oregon's rivers, helps remove obsolete dams and secures balanced water polices for the state of Oregon. Need evidence of the impact of your donation? Read on.

Since our last report WaterWatch has the following accomplishments to report:

McKenzie River:  WaterWatch stopped an attempt to acquire 22 million gallons of water per day from the river at the expense of native fish in the McKenzie.

Malheur Lakes Basin: WaterWatch challenged Oregon's giveaway of groundwater that may affect lakes and springs  needed by migratory birds at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Why do we say "may affect"? Because Oregon lacks the data to know if the groundwater giveaway is sustainable or will injure surface waters in the refuge, yet continues to approve more groundwater rights in the area.

Klamath Basin: WaterWatch challenged the failure of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to complete by a statutory deadline comprehensive conservation plans at the National Wildlife Refuges in the Klamath Basin. WaterWatch also released a report that documents how these refuges, some of the most important in the nation for migratory birds, could receive water using existing water rights.

Rogue Basin: WaterWatch continued to pass milestones on the project to remove obsolete Wimer and Fielder Dams from Evans Creek and restore fish passage to up to 70 miles of high quality habitat for steelhead and salmon.

N. Fork Smith River: WaterWatch joined 17 groups in challenging a proposed nickel mining operation in the headwaters streams of the N. Fork Smith River.

Fish Passage Standards: WaterWatch participated in an Oregon Supreme Court victory that clarified requirements for fish passage at small dams across the state. Now, passage will be based on the biological needs of fish.

These are just a few of the accomplishments we can report from the past four months. Your support makes these types of accomplishments possible. Thank you for protecting and restoring Oregon's rivers.


Jul 23, 2014

We Need Your Help Now More Than Ever

WaterWatch has been working with the Gold Hill Irrigation District (GHID) to improve fish passage at its irrigation diversion on the Rogue River. With the removal of Savage Rapids Dam, City of Gold Hill Dam, and Gold Ray Dam and the notching of Elk Creek Dam, GHID’s diversion dam is now the highest ranking fish passage priority on the Rogue Basin Fish Access Technical Team's priority list. This project will benefit spring and fall chinook salmon, summer and winter steelhead, ESA listed coho salmon, cutthroat trout, and lamprey. The GHID diversion is on the mainstem of the Rogue River between the previous Gold Hill and Gold Ray dam sites, and will compliment and enhance the benefits of the other restoration efforts on the Rogue River.

This project was developed with a technical assistance grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), which allowed alternatives to be developed to solve the fish passage issues at the GHID’s diversion. With input from and consultation with the irrigation district and multiple state and federal agencies, alternatives were developed and an  alternative selected. Based on the engineers estimate, $283,000 in funding and in-kind match were secured for final engineering, environmental review and permitting, preparation of contract documents, administration, and project management. Permits have been secured and the project is slated to begin in late August this year.

Unfortunately, the low bid out of 6 bids came in $88,000 over the funds secured for construction ($151,000). We are now negotiating with bidders and discussing doing the project in stages so that some of the work can begin as scheduled, while additional funds are secured. OWEB has contributed $181,750 toward this project, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contributed $30,000 as well as work on the bypass system.

While we are searching for funding to make up the shortfall, any additional contribution will help reduce the shortfall and help move this project forward with the objective of still getting it completed before the start of irrigation season in April 2015.

Thank you for your support of this important project for the Rogue River.

Apr 9, 2014

Closing in on the goal

We're close ot achieving the goal on this project to modify this Rogue River irrigation dam to make it fish friendly, but we need your help.
In 2011, the irrigation district entered into an agreement with WaterWatch. WaterWatch agreed to raise funds to do design work and investigate alternatives to fix the harm caused by the diversion to Rogue River salmon and steelhead, while at the same time not raise operating costs. WaterWatch raised the funds, and together with the irrigation district, hired an engineer to develop alternatives.
A lengthy transparent planning process ensued to develop alternatives.  State and federal fish agencies were consulted.  The irrigation district participated in the process and development of alternatives.  Alternatives were considered and a mutually agreeable design was selected.
In early 2013, WaterWatch and the irrigation district then entered into another agreement to construct the preferred design. Again WaterWatch helped secure funding for this purpose. 
Now the project is in the process of securing permits for construction. We are close to the goal of modifying this large diversion to make it fish friendly but need your support. Please help us push complete this project to protect migratory fish in the Rogue River.
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