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Conservation
encouraging efficient water use
 
The Department encourages the efficient use of water and practices that conserve water resources. Oregon law requires that all water that is diverted by water right holders be used beneficially and without waste. This means that a right holder is required by law to use only the amount necessary for the intended purpose and no more, up to the limits of the water right.
 
 
Allocation of Conserved Water
 
With improving technology and distribution methods, water users are now able to do the same work with much less water than was required in the past. However, the water saved by improved technology and efficient practices cannot automatically be put to uses beyond those specified in a water right. For example, if the installation of an improved irrigation system reduces water use from six acre-feet per year to only two acre-feet per year, the four acre-feet that is saved cannot be used on other lands or for other purposes under the existing water right.
 
State law does allow a water right holder to submit a conserved water application to the Department and receive authorization to use a portion of the conserved water on additional lands, apply the water to new uses, or dedicate the water to instream use. The percentage of saved water that may be applied to new uses or lands depends on the amount of state or federal funding contributed to the conservation project. The law requires that the remaining percentage of the saved water be returned to the stream for improving instream flows, if needed. The original water right is reissued to reflect the quantity of water being used with the improved technology and the priority date stays the same. Another water right certificate is issued for the new use with either the same priority date or a priority date of one minute after the original water right. This process gives a water right holder the option of extending the use of their right without applying for a new permit or transferring an existing permit.
 
 
Water Management and Conservation Planning
 
Some agricultural and municipal water suppliers are required to prepare water management and conservation plans. Development of these plans involves a step-by-step evaluation of the water supply alternatives available to the supplier and an evaluation of the role that water conservation can have in meeting the supplier’s water needs. In addition, the assessments of conservation measures required for the plans helps to ensure that the supplier’s use is not wasteful. Department staff provide workshops and other technical assistance to water suppliers preparing water management and conservation plans.
Commission and Department
 
1. Oregon Water Laws
water management in Oregon
 
2. Protections and Restrictions
managing water appropriations
 
3. New Water Rights
gaining authorization to use water
 
4. Other Water Rights
authorization for water use
 
5. Transferring Rights
existing rights for new users
 
6. Canceling Rights
loss of water rights through non-use
 
7. Conservation
encouraging efficient water use
 
8. Finding Water Rights
determining if you have a water right
 
9. Enforcing Water Laws
watermasters and field staff protecting rights and resources
 
10. Region Managers and Offices
 
11. Fees
 
Appendix A
other development permits
 
Water Measurement Conversions