Appropriation of Water Generally

ORS 537.141
Uses of water not requiring water right application, permit or certificate

  • rules


The following water uses do not require an application under ORS 537.130 (Permit to appropriate water required) or 537.615 (Application for permit to acquire new right or enlarge existing right to appropriate ground water), a water right permit under ORS 537.211 (Issuance of permit if application approved) or a water right certificate under ORS 537.250 (Water right certificate):


Emergency fire-fighting uses;


Nonemergency fire-fighting training, provided:


The source of the water is existing storage and the use occurs with permission of the owner of the stored water; or


If the source of water is other than existing storage, the use occurs with the prior written approval of the watermaster in the district where the training will take place and subject to any conditions the watermaster determines are necessary to prevent injury to existing water rights and to protect in-stream resources;


Water uses that divert water to water tanks or troughs from a reservoir for a use allowed under an existing water right permit or certificate for the reservoir;


Fish screens, fishways and fish by-pass structures, as exempted by rule of the Water Resources Commission;


Land management practices intended to save soil and improve water quality by temporarily impeding or changing the natural flow of diffuse surface water across agricultural lands when storage of public waters is not an intended purpose. Such practices include but are not limited to:






Retention dams and other temporary impoundments; and


Agronomic practices designed to improve water quality and control surface runoff to prevent erosion, such as ripping, pitting, rough tillage and cross slope farming;


Livestock watering operations that comply with the requirements under subsections (2) and (3) of this section;


Forest management activities that require the use of water in conjunction with mixing pesticides as defined in ORS 634.006 (Definitions), or in slash burning;


The collection of precipitation water from an artificial impervious surface and the use of such water;


Land application of ground water so long as the ground water:


Has first been appropriated and used under a permit or certificate issued under ORS 537.625 (Final order) or 537.630 (Time allowed for construction work under permit) for a water right issued for industrial purposes or a water right authorizing use of water for confined animal feeding purposes;


Is reused for irrigation purposes and the period of irrigation is a period during which the reused water has never been discharged to the waters of the state; and


Is applied pursuant to a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality or the State Department of Agriculture under either ORS 468B.050 (Water quality permit) to construct and operate a disposal system or ORS 468B.215 (Fees) to operate a confined animal feeding operation; and


Surface mining practices that result in the removal of water from a surface mine subject to an operating permit or reclamation plan approved by the State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, unless the water is used for a subsequent beneficial use.


The use of surface water for livestock watering may be exempted under subsection (1) of this section if:


The water is diverted from a stream or other surface water source to a trough or tank through an enclosed water delivery system;


The delivery system either is equipped with an automatic shutoff or flow control mechanism or includes a means for returning water to the surface water source through an enclosed delivery system; and


The operation is located on land from which the livestock would otherwise have legal access to both the use and source of the surface water source.


If the diversion system described in subsection (2) of this section is located within or above a scenic waterway, the amount of water that may be used without a water right is limited to one-tenth of one cubic foot per second per 1,000 head of livestock. Nothing in this section shall prevent the Water Resources Commission from approving an application for a water right permit for a delivery system not qualifying under subsection (2) of this section.


The Water Resources Department, in conjunction with local soil and water conservation districts, the Oregon State University Extension Service, the State Department of Agriculture and the State Department of Fish and Wildlife and any other organization interested in participating, shall develop and implement a voluntary educational program on livestock management techniques designed to keep livestock away from streams and riparian areas.


To qualify for an exempt use under subsection (1)(g) of this section, the user shall:


Submit notice of the proposed use, including the identification of the proposed water source, to the Water Resources Department and to the State Department of Fish and Wildlife at the time notice is provided to other affected agencies pursuant to ORS 527.670 (Commencement of operations); and


Comply with any restrictions imposed by the department pertaining to sources of water that may not be used in conjunction with the proposed activity.


Except for the use of water under subsection (1)(i) of this section, the Water Resources Commission by rule may require any person or public agency diverting water as described in subsection (1) of this section to furnish information with regard to such water and the use thereof. For a use of water described in subsection (1)(i) of this section, the Department of Environmental Quality or the State Department of Agriculture shall provide to the Water Resources Department a copy of the permit issued under ORS 468B.050 (Water quality permit) or 468B.215 (Fees) authorizing the land application of ground water for reuse. The permit shall provide the information regarding the place of use of such water and the nature of the beneficial reuse. [1993 c.595 §3; 1995 c.184 §1; 1995 c.274 §9a; 1995 c.537 §2; 1995 c.752 §7; 1997 c.199 §1; 1997 c.244 §2; 1999 c.335 §1; 2001 c.248 §11; 2003 c.470 §4; 2007 c.189 §1]
Note: 537.141 (Uses of water not requiring water right application, permit or certificate) was added to and made a part of ORS chapter 537 by legislative action but was not added to any smaller series therein. See Preface to Oregon Revised Statutes for further explanation.

Law Review Citations

37 EL 105 (2007)

§§ 537.140 to 537.240

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Storage rights to store water for later beneficial use are not subordinate to later priority direct use rights unless made so by explicit conditions imposed on storage right, (1989) Vol 46, p 290

Chapter 537

Notes of Decisions

Water control district, in applying for water appropriation permit for hydroelectric project, was exempt from licensing provisions of ORS 543.010 to 543.620 and needed only to comply with requirements of this chapter. Steamboaters v. Winchester Water Control Dist., 69 Or App 596, 688 P2d 92 (1984), Sup Ct review denied

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Reservation to state of "all coal and other minerals" in deed of land by state as reservation of geothermal resources, (1980) Vol 41, p 298

Law Review Citations

11 EL 387 (1981); 16 EL 583, 592 (1986); 28 WLR 285 (1992)


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021