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

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.


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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.
Apr 9, 2014

Saving the World One Small Stream at a Time

You love big western rivers. Oregon has some of the best out there – the Deschutes, the John Day, the Rogue, the Umpqua. Your investment in WaterWatch protects and restores streamflows on many of these big iconic rivers for fish, wildlife and the people, like you, who care deeply about the health of these rivers. But, as you know, small streams are essential too. Small streams comprise most of the stream mileage in Oregon. Small streams provide critical habitat for the salmon and steelhead that spawn in tributaries and many other species of fish, birds, plants, and insects. Inland, these small streams can provide genetic reservoirs for bull trout, Lahontan cutthroat trout, and many other species. Smaller streams provide a gentle place to explore with children, a place to teach a young one to fish or to skip stones. Small streams have a beauty and delight all their own, perhaps not always as majestic as the lower Deschutes River or the Wild and Scenic Rogue – though Joseph Creek might beg to differ – but instead intimate and welcoming in scale. The charms of small streams can often be easily approached. These streams are important and they deserve our best efforts. You are saving the world one small stream at a time by supporting WaterWatch.

A sampling of the small stream success stories made possible by your investment in WaterWatch includes the following: In the John Day Basin, your support stopped dozens of ill-conceived dam projects on Thirtymile Creek, retired water rights in the Rock Creek area, and created tools that help restore streamflows on small streams across the basin. In the Umatilla Basin, on Mill Creek, a relatively pristine stronghold for bull trout, you protected higher flow events, secured water for streamflows in the dry summer months, and safeguarded the uppermost reaches by moving a large point of diversion for a city from the headwaters area to a location seventeen miles downstream. In the Rogue Basin, you helped notch a never-completed dam on Elk Creek and you are supporting projects to remove two of the worst fish passage barriers in Oregon on Evans Creek. This project will provide unimpeded access to 70 miles of high quality small stream habitat for migratory and resident fish. Your investment also protected and restored streamflows on Big Butte Creek and supports ongoing water conservation and efficiency projects that could help restore streamflows and water quality on Little Butte Creek. You made sure that the Little Applegate will always flow, even in times of drought, by supporting transactions to acquire the most senior water rights on the stream for instream use. You have also helped stop, to date, the degradation of Grave Creek by a large proposed mining project. Grave Creek marks the put-in for boaters on the world-famous whitewater run and federally-designated Wild section of the Wild and Scenic lower mainstem Rogue, as well as the eastern trailhead of the Lower Rogue River Trail. In the Deschutes Basin, your support has helped restore streamflows on Wychus Creek, Bear Creek, and Spring Creek, among others. In southeastern Oregon you have protected Home, Threemile, and Whitehorse Creeks from excessive water development. These streams are important for imperiled desert fish and other species. On the Oregon coast, you have supported projects that have protected and restored streamflows for Horn Creek, Drift Creek, and many, many small coastal streams through WaterWatch’s administrative challenges to damaging water development proposals and other work on coastal basin plans that affect water use from these streams.

Across Oregon, your support has resulted in hundreds of instream water rights on small streams. Many more instream water rights for small streams are now in the works. You made these extraordinary results possible. Yet, small streams across Oregon remain under attack from ongoing efforts to drain, dam, and otherwise degrade these critical waterways. The challenge of protecting and restoring small streams across Oregon is a good fight that’s worth winning. To paraphrase Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, “In the protection and restoration of small streams is the preservation of the world.” Thank you for your vision and support. Let’s continue to save the world one small stream at a time.

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