OWC's work in 2017
In the past 10 months, the Oregon Water Coalition has completed multiple projects aimed at supporting water and agriculture education efforts in the Umatilla Basin and in northeastern Oregon. In May, OWC held its annual membership meeting featuring local and state experts. A recap of this event can be found here. During the first part of the year, updates to the website including adding facts about regional agriculture and cataloging water-related legislation, with the inclusion of some limited, original reporting as well. The fact sheets were assembled in collaboration with the SAGE Center, and OWC hopes to continue to work with SAGE in 2018. Accompanying the website was the re-launch of a monthly newsletter, offered in an email format only. OWC will continue to produce this e-newsletter and solicit ideas for content that will make the letter helpful.
In June, OWC began a partnership with Umatilla Electric Cooperative. UEC currently provides monthly support to allow the organization to retain a full time coordinator. The first tangible product from this partnership was produced in November with the publication of an article written by OWC's coordinator and featured in The Ruralite and on Northeast Oregon NOW. You can read that article here. Stay tuned for more articles about relevant water and agriculture topics in the future.
As part of its education mission, the OWC coordinator has been working to assemble a number of informational documents focused on outlining various topics of interest, as identified by board members or submitted as special requests. Topics include Basin history, water delivery explanations, and details about changes in irrigation districts in recent decades. Research will be distilled into fact sheets and made available on OWC's website soon.
Finally, OWC has partnered with the Eastern Oregon Women's Coalition and the Northeast Oregon Water Association to work on a multi-county partnership effort. The aim of this partnership--focused on Union, Wallowa, Baker, Umatilla, and Morrow counties--is to identify opportunities presented by water storage and dam upgrade projects as mitigation sources for the Mid-Columbia Targeted Investment and Mitigation Effort. Work on this will continue in the spring of 2018 with a two day tour of water projects in Union, Wallowa, and Baker for state legislators and project partners. The Oregon Business Council and Oregon Association of Counties are also supporting this project.
changes in 2017
In the past year, OWC has undergone a few significant changes. In January, the Coalition hired its first ever full time coordinator (more here). With the introduction of this position, the Coalition has more bandwidth to partner with other local organizations and to produce independent research on regional systems and issues for educational purposes.
Another large transition took place in October, when the Oregon Water Coalition welcomed three new members to its Board of Directors and bid farewell to two directors with a long history of involvement. OWC would like to sincerely thank Bill Porfily and Mike Wick, both on the board of directors since 2000, for their excellent service and dedication to the organization over the past years. OWC is excited to welcome three new directors: Scott Lukas, Tamra Mabbott, and Debbie Pedro. Ray Kopacz has assumed the role of President in place of Bill Porfily. Gibb Evans was elected Vice-President, and JR Cook remains in the role of Secretary-Treasurer.
Debbie Pedro is the President of the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce. The Hermiston Chamber is a longtime supporter of OWC. Tamra Mabbott recently took the role of Community Development Director for the City of Umatilla after serving as planning director of Umatilla County for 15 years. Scott Lukas accepted a research role at the Hermiston Agricultural & Research Extension Center in September 2016. He is an assistant professor of horticulture in the OSU Integrated Cropping System Program. Each brings a valuable perspective to the organization and will play an important role in driving outreach and education efforts forward, and OWC is pleased to have the opportunity to broaden and diversify its board.
In the new year
With these changes in place, we look forward to a very successful 2018. The year will kick off with an annual meeting on January 23 from 8am-12pm at the Hermiston Conference Center. The half-day event will feature updates on local water issues as well as a two hour "water rights bootcamp" led by attorney Laura A Schroeder of Schroeder Law Offices. Agenda details and an RSVP form will be made available soon, but you can visit our events page for the most recent updates. Beyond this meeting, we anticipate continuing many of the projects and partnerships that were begun this year.