After unanimous approval by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee on March 28th, House Bill (HB) 3051 is in the queue for approval by the full House. HB 3051 would expand permissible uses of the Water Measurement Cost Share Program Revolving Fund.
Established in 2001, this fund was recapitalized in 2013 as part of the Water Resources Department’s (WRD) base budget, allowing the WRD to work with landowners to voluntarily install measuring devices on significant points of diversion on high priority streams. The fund can pay up to 75 percent of the cost of installing a measuring device, which typically ranges from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The bill would authorize use of the fund on devices at a point of appropriation, for existing water rights, and to measure ground water.
While the focus of the fund was originally on surface water diversions, it would be valuable to assist water users to install measuring devices on wells. Groundwater use data are used for a variety of purposes, such as: conducting a basin study to better understand the groundwater resource and how much is available for withdrawal; determining interference between junior and senior groundwater users; and assessing whether a water user is exceeding the amount authorized on the water right. This data helps WRD manage the resource for water users over the long-term.
Given the dearth of information about groundwater in Oregon, this new authorization would be invaluable as the state relies ever more on that resource.
AOC wholeheartedly supports HB 3051 and is glad to see it move toward legislation.
Contributed by: Gil Riddell | AOC Policy Director