Eastern Oregon farmers say more water from the Columbia River would allow them to grow more valuable crops.
A 2006 study said recharging aquifers with river water would stimulate the basin's economy by $344 million, create more than 2,000 jobs, increase labor income $72 million and add $5 million annually to state tax revenue.
Call it a push by Big Ag, but that's not a pejorative out here. For all the glow of Willamette Valley farming, Umatilla and Morrow counties, 175 miles east of Portland, ranked second and third statewide in 2011 with $503 million and $477 million in gross farm and ranch sales, respectively. Agriculture provides more than 14,000 direct and secondary jobs in the basin, and its growers and food processors annually ship products worth more than $1 billion to domestic and international markets.
Umatilla basin farmers have been seeking additional water for more than 20 years. They believe technology and mitigation will allow them to increase their draw from the Columbia, even during spring and summer, without harm to endangered salmon.
Read more at OregonLive.com.