Water rights are a frequent topic of conversation during the long, hot summer here in Clackamas County. How can one obtain a water right? Do I need one? And, frequently, just what is a water right?
A water right is the legal right of a user to take and use water from a water source such as a river, stream, pond, groundwater well, or lake. In Oregon, under the Oregon Water Code of 1909, all water belongs to the public. With few exceptions, cities, businesses, farmers, and other water users must obtain a water right from the Water Resources Department (WRD) in order to use water from any source.
Generally speaking, landowners with water flowing past, through, or under their property do not automatically have the right to use that water without authorization from the WRD.
New Handout Provides Simple Guidelines, Information
Amy Kim, the District 20 Watermaster, has a lot of experience answering people’s questions about water rights. She recently shared a new handout – Understanding Water-Use Regulations in Oregon. This 2-page, easy to read document covers the following questions:
- What are the water-use authorization options?
- What else should you know about the use of your water right?
- How do I obtain a water right permit in the State of Oregon?
- What sources of water are exempt from the permitting process and how can the water be used?
- Who is my local Watermaster?
Water is a Finite Resource
Water may seem plentiful here in Clackamas County, which includes, numerous lakes and rivers, streams beyond counting, and rainfall that lasts for months on end, but this resource is limited. There are many demands on Oregon’s water resources and trying to address everyone’s water needs is a difficult task.
Water is used for irrigating cropland and producing livestock. It is needed for domestic, use including drinking water, for recreation, and industrial manufacturing. Water is also necessary to the survival of our native fish and other aquatic life, as well the health of our many watersheds.
The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District provides FREE technical resources to help landowners find ways to conserve their water resources. This allows them to be successful land managers while still protecting our resources for people down stream and into the future. Our conservation planners can provide valuable information on topics such as irrigation efficiency, mud and manure management, streamside/riparian restoration, and more. For additional information, contact us at 503-210-6000.