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Readers air their water concerns

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Finding the balance for water needs

Water issues in Oregon are complex, divisive and serious. The demands on water supply are growing, endangered fish are struggling and Oregon is behind most Western states in planning for future water needs.

According to this month’s Input survey, conducted by research partner Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, the 755 respondents clearly see the importance of protecting both fish and wildlife, while at the same time recognizing agriculture needs. But asked to rank the priority, the majority goes slightly to fish and wildlife.

An effort by Eastern Oregon irrigators to extract more water from the Columbia River during critical summer fish months died in the Legislature this session (RELATED STORY), but the debate brought forward many long-simmering tensions. Much was made by supporters of the bill (irrigators, business and farm groups) of how Washington has moved forward with plans to use more water from the Columbia and that Oregon is falling behind economically. Opponents (water officials, fish conservationists, tribes) saw it as a direct assault on salmon recovery and current water agreements. The debate is likely to continue into the next legislative session and beyond.

Outside of the realm of lobbyists and politicians, it’s interesting to note this: 74% of the Input respondents live in either the Portland Metro area or the Willamette Valley, yet 44% favors increasing water for Eastern Oregon irrigation. This suggests that despite the urban-rural divide, some urbanites understand the farmers’ point of view.
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To participate in the Input survey, send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Research conducted by Conkling Fiskum & McCormick.


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