Oregon Water Resources Department
Serious Water Management Problem Areas
The Commission may adopt a rule to designate an area as having serious water management problems and may order any affected water right holders to submit annual water use reports if it finds that:
Ground water decline in the area is of such magnitude that the aquifer does not recover annually;
There are frequent water management disputes between water users in the area that cannot be privately resolved;
Substantial interference exists between wells;
The exercise of ground water rights interferes with flow of water in a nearby stream, to the detriment of senior surface water rights;
The diversion of water from streams is in such quantities that interference with nearby wells occurs; or
There are frequent occurrences of surface or ground water shortages caused by use of water from streams or wells. Shortages may be evidenced by complaints from water right holders, requests to regulate water use, degraded water quality, or failure to meet administrative restrictions or minimum streamflows.
The Commission may direct that a hearing be held to determine if an area has serious water management problems upon receipt of a complete petition with sufficient evidence of a serious management problem from a water right holder in the area, or from the director of a state or federal agency. The Commission may also hold a hearing to determine if an area has serious water management problems on its own motion.
A petition for hearing shall include recommended boundaries of the area proposed for designation, a description of the water management problems in the area, a summary of data on water availability and use for the area, and a proposed water management and annual water use reporting program. This proposed program should include a description of any measuring devices to be required, information which would be submitted on any annual water use reports and proposed procedures for regulation of water use. The Commission shall review the data and recommendations in the petition and determine if a hearing shall be held.
The hearing shall be held in the area proposed for designation as having serious water management problems. Notice of the hearing shall be published in a local newspaper at least two weeks before the hearing. Additionally, the Department shall mail notice of the hearings to water rights holders in the area when feasible.
Alternative proposals for measuring devices, methods of obtaining data, or formats for reporting data may be presented to the Department within 30 days after the hearing date.
If the Commission determines there is a serious water management problem, it shall adopt a rule which specifies the nature of the problem, the boundaries of the area involved, who is required to install measuring devices, specifications for the types of measuring devices and annual reports, and timelines for implementation.
The Commission may consider amendment of a rule designating a serious water management problem area upon receipt of a petition to initiate rulemaking or on the Commission’s own motion.