For Immediate Release April 19, 2016

Contact: Diana Enright, (503) 986-0874

Union County Awarded Grant to Help Plan for Water Needs

SALEM, OREGON, APRIL 19 —The Oregon Water Resources Department awarded four grants totaling $657,000 to help communities address local water challenges through collaborative water planning. The recipients of the grants are Union County in the Upper Grande Ronde Sub-Basin, the John Day Partnership in the Lower John Day Sub-Basin, the City of Newport in the Mid-Coast Basin, and the Harney County Watershed Council in the Malheur Lake Basin.

Helping communities plan for their water future through place-based integrated water resources planning is a recommended action in Oregon’s 2012 Integrated Water Resources Strategy. These four awards are part of a pilot program authorized by the 2015 Legislature. Sixteen communities submitted requests for place-based planning grants totaling over $3.6 million.

Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson understands the importance of water resources for his community.  As the leader of this effort, Commissioner Davidson successfully assembled a team to seek grant funding for the Upper Grande Ronde River Sub-Basin, a vital ecosystem the supports ranchers, farmers, and municipal users as well as an array of fish and wildlife in Union County.  Commissioner Davidson says, “The objective is to identify available water resources in the sub-basin compared to the demands on the resource; the resulting plan will serve as a foundation for the future water resource project development.”

Oregon Water Resources Department Director Tom Byler says the overwhelming response to this pilot program underscores the value of water to all Oregonians. “It’s great to see so many people step up and realize the fundamental importance of water in their communities. We’re excited to work with the grant recipients to test the collaborative process on complex water issues.”

Place-based planning provides a framework for communities to understand current and future water needs for people, the economy, and the environment. Through a voluntary, locally led effort, communities will partner with the Oregon Water Resources Department to identify and prioritize strategic solutions to meet those needs. The pilots will follow a set of draft planning guidelines, which begins by forming an open and collaborative process. Place-based integrated water resources plans can provide a roadmap to gather the support and resources needed to implement local solutions.

Place-Based Planning is part of the Department’s Water Resources Development Program:

For a handout on place-based, click here.  For frequently asked questions, click here.

For more information on the Upper Grande Ronde Sub-Basin planning effort, please contact: Mark Davidson, Union County Commissioner, (541) 963-1001,