Monday, December 29, 2014

Phillip Elden Answers Questions about Central Oregon Water Dispute Bill

Phillip Elden is the Conservation Director and co-founder of conservation group, Native Oregon. Native Oregon is committed to protecting Oregon’s native wildlife and forests.

Q: What does the passage of the Water Dispute Bill mean for Native Oregon’s efforts to protect native animal species?

Phillip Elden: To see Representative Walden (R) and Senator Merkley (D) collaborate on Oregon’s decades-old water rights issue is very encouraging. For too many years both sides of the aisle have been occupied with their own agendas, when the best way to accomplish change is by working together. When others see what can be accomplished with cooperation, it will hopefully lead to change for all Oregonians.

Q: But didn’t Merkley and Walden introduce different versions of the bill?

Phillip Elden: They did, but in the end they agreed to implement a collaborative water management vision that was supported by multiple interest groups.

Q: You mentioned this problem is decades old? So this isn’t a recent impasse?

Phillip Elden: The dispute has been on-going for over forty years. This bill provides a basis for how diverse interests can meet their individual water needs by working together. It can act as a path to economic growth for tribes and communities, as well as offering protection for fish and wildlife across the state.

Q: What does this new legislation mean in simple terms?

Phillip Elden: The bill will afford more reliable water supplies for farmers, the city of Prineville, and for fish and wildlife. The legislation moved boundaries that protect the Crooked River and allows for the development of hydroelectric power at Bowman Dam.

Q: Will the Bowman Dam be affected negatively by the change?

Phillip Elden: No. The agreement will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to release enough water to provide 80 cubic feet per second flow, but will assure that the reservoir is not drained. In my opinion, this is a win-win for both the environment and the community as a whole.

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