Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed a plan that will move several eastern Oregon water projects one step forward.
The Umatilla Basin has seen some of the largest groundwater declines in the developed world. Aquifers have dropped 500 feet since the 1970s.
Now Kitzhaber –- along with farmers, conservationists and tribal members -– has signed an agreement that will help bring more water to the basin.
“We’ve had a tough time getting people to work together in this particular area, so to have that broad a set of interests come together and agree on particular projects is really unprecedented,” said Richard Whitman, policy director with the Governor’s Natural Resources Office.
The Columbia River-Umatilla Solutions Taskforce, known as CRUST for short, officially signed a declaration of cooperation.
A major part of the plan would pump water into the area from the Columbia River in the winter. The water would be stored for use in irrigating crops. It would also create more habitat for salmon.
Watch the video Watering The Oregon Desert:
The group is also considering water storage projects at Wallowa Lake and Juniper Canyon. It will also consider collaborating with Washington state on several water projects.
Whitman estimates the feasibility studies will cost around $2 million over the next two years.
Congrats to David James for his winning submission, 'Annabella smelling the Balsam.'
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