Water is important to all Oregonians. It is vital to community well-being, economic development and a healthy environment. The 2012 Integrated Water Resources Strategy (IWRS) recommends that the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) help communities collaboratively develop solutions to address water needs within a watershed, basin or groundwater area. Place-based planning provides an opportunity for people with an interest in water to better understand local water resources and to coordinate efforts so that they are working towards a shared vision of their water future.

Place-based planning provides a framework for communities to understand and meet their water needs now and into the future. It involves a five step process, in which a community will:

  1. Build a collaborative and inclusive process
  2. Gather information to understand water resources and identify gaps in knowledge
  3. Examine current and future water needs for people, the economy, and the environment
  4. Identify and prioritize strategic, integrated solutions to meet water needs
  5. Develop a place-based integrated water resources plan

Key Planning Principles:

  • Locally-initiated and led collaborative effort
  • Voluntary, non-regulatory process
  • Includes a balanced representation of water interests
  • Conducted in partnership with the state
  • Addresses instream and out-of-stream needs
  • Looks at water quantity, quality and ecosystem needs in an integrated approach
  • Creates an open and transparent process that fosters public participation
  • Builds on and integrates existing studies and plans
  • Does not infringe on existing water rights
  • Adheres to IWRS principles and state laws

Harney County Commissioner Mark Owens testified before the House Natural Resources Committee to make the case to extend funding to place-based planning projects that are currently in process. He serves as convener of the Malheur Lake Basin process, along with the Harney County Watershed Council.

Contributed by: Susan Morgan | Legislative Affairs Manager