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« Six Water Solutions for the Southwest USA; Lake Mead Tunnel | Main | UN Report: Aid Donors Should Focus on Water - Amen! »

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


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John DeVoe


You characterized the article in the Oregonian as "excellent" in your post. Some of the shortcomings of the article may have resulted from Milstein's word choices and editing, I will grant you that. However, the article failed to note that, in large part, Cascades groundwater is already appropriated. That is a serious flaw in the article.

Of course the "cognoscenti" knows about Grant's work and Cascades groundwater. I don't know if I qualify as a wonk or not, but my point stands that we are already regulating the heck out of this water in places like the Deschutes and Klamath. Again, why will no one mention the inconvenient fact of the Deschutes Basin Groundwater Mitigation Program??

As to external threats, unless we decide to override prior appropriation, those external threats are going to encounter a very strong property rights based reaction if there are attempts to export previously appropriated water. That's not a commerce clause issue, it's a property rights issue.

As for the Columbia, that is an entirely different issue that the article did not touch on and that we will deal with at the appropriate time.

I think the OWRD/USGS article got it right. It's pretty much the same response that my organization was prepared to write. Glad that you posted it here.


Dear John,

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your taking the time.

I speak only for myself here and not for Gordon Grant.

As for deliberately supporting an agenda to support external basin transfers, I am unsure where you get that idea. The fact that I say that people may want to use the water does not mean I support that use.

And, as for failing to understand the context, I would submit that you are the one who fails to understand the context: that 20 or 30 years hence, someone may come knocking at Oregon's door looking to tap into the Cascades or the Columbia River. If we do not know how much we have and what stresses it can endure, how can we protect it?

My former home state of New Mexico faced this dilemma over 20 years ago when El Paso wanted to pump New Mexico's ground water and pipe it to Texas. Do you think that cannot happen here? Think "commerce clause" of the U.S. Constitution.

I have been amazed at how many Oregonian "waterwonks" are oblivious to external threats to Oregon's water or who are, but have told me not to bring this stuff up lest someone think that there is "water for the taking up here". Ah,"The Emperor's New Clothes" syndrome!

Let me just remind you that the "Western water cognoscenti" knew about Grant's findings long before they hit the popular media. So maybe we should just tell Gordon not to publish his stuff.

And they also know the flow of the Columbia River.

John DeVoe

Sorry folks, the Oregonian really missed it with this article. Let me count the ways this was NOT an excellent article:

Many rivers already depend on this system. Many users are already relying on this system based on their use of groundwater and the rivers that depend on the system. This water is not some new find.

The state has been regulating this system and its components for almost 80 years. Don't take my word for it, ask the OWRD. Heck, ask the USGS. Apparently the Oregonian won't publish the joint OWRD-USGS response to this article.

Grant and Campana just don't understand the context here, or they are deliberately ignoring it to serve an agenda that supports out of basin transfers.

Here are specfific issues with the article:

"The secret's out: Tons of water . . ." This system is not a secret. Oregon is already regulating parts of it. The term "tons" may be factually true but in common language it conveys an abundance that ignores the many existing demands on several parts of this system.

"Secret stockpile" The system is not a secret and suggesting it is a stockpile connotes it's a reservoir we can draw on. That is not true given existing uses, including instream and out of stream uses of this system.

"Exceptionally big resource here and someday somebody may want to use it" It's already being used, quite heavily and to the point of extensive regulation, in some parts of the state. Deschutes Mitigation Program anyone?

"Volume of water is difficult to fathom" Conveys unwarranted perception of abundance. This sounds to me like the way we used to describe forest resources before we got real about the limits.

"Oregon's reservoir is still brimming" Not in the Deschutes, where we already have a mitigation program in place for new uses of this same groundwater - or in the Klamath, where surface flows are intimately tied to groundwater.

"Because so much water is left underground, plenty is left to flow out in the summer" Again, an unwarranted suggestion of abundance. This is a qualitative, unscientific statement. Certainly the article made no distinction between eastside water availability and westside water availability. Further, if you look deeper, some of the water that OWRD says is "available" on the westside is only available because when ODFW applied for instream water rights for fish, those applications were reduced for non-scientific reasons.

The article entirely fails to discuss the Deschutes mitigation program.

Improved water management is the way forward, not extensive development of Cascades groundwater. Water is not Oregon's oil. It is not a replacement for
unsustainable past timber revenues, it is not a substitute for rational budgets and taxation in this state and it is not wasted when it provides extensive ecosystem services to the citizens of Oregon without charge.

David Zetland

First thing -- make sure that laws on g/w withdrawal and adjudication are up to date, i.e., limited exports based on sustainable yield.

Second -- Mulroy's sending a pipe right over ("because if people gotta live somewhere, it may as well be in our tax district.")

Todd Jarvis

Bottled water companies such as Nestle probably already know about this source and many others like it in the Cascades as they have their own staff of over 10 groundwater hydrologists with Ph.D.s and consultants on the prowl for new sources. 30,000 gpm springs are not uncommon in the western US and don't get much attention from Oregon bottlers. The Oregon bottled water companies target springs that discharge over 100,000 gpm. Read all about it:

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