A Request for your Consideration and Input for Possible Improvements to the Guidebook for Municipal Water Management and Conservation Plans
It’s been almost 10 years since the “Water Management and Conservation Plans: A Guidebook for Oregon Municipal Water Suppliers (May 2003)” was developed through a joint effort sponsored by the League of Oregon Cities (LOC), the Oregon Water Utilities Commission (OWUC) and the Special Districts Association of Oregon. A Review Committee (consisting of members from LOC, OWUC, the Oregon Department of Water Resources (OWRD) and representatives from municipal water suppliers) provided oversight on development and preparation of the guidance.
Since its publication, many municipal water suppliers have utilized the guidebook to help prepare their Water Management and Conservation Plan (WMCP) for submittal to OWRD for review and approval. OWRD has learned a lot during this time, and while WMCP quality has improved, there are opportunities to provide better direction and guidance to water suppliers that need to develop a municipal WMCP.
Over the past decade, OWRD has received 132 municipal WMCPs and has observed several areas that seem to be consistently problematic with WMCP submittals. Small things have been undertaken to address some of these issues, such as unveiling OWRD’s Conservation Share-House web page and developing a template to assist water suppliers with providing a comprehensive water right inventory. However, more can be done. Issues such as permit extensions of time, WMCP 5-year progress reports, water audits, urban reserves and climate change – are just a few of the new and ongoing considerations for municipalities.
This is where you come in. We would like to invite municipal water suppliers to be involved in the process of updating the guidebook. This is a chance to voice your opinion on topics that could be addressed or better explained in the guidance document. Tell us what you think. What elements are confusing or cause you frustration? What information is missing from the guidebook? What tools would help with preparation of a WMCP?
A few of the topics that OWRD would like to update include:
· More guidance for water suppliers on providing notice of the WMCP to affected local governments at least 30 days prior to submitting it to OWRD for review. What qualifies as an “affected local government?”
· A more thorough description of the relationship between Municipal and Quasi‑Municipal Permit Extensions of Time and WMCPs.
· More information on “Development Limitations” established by Final Orders approving Permit Extensions of Time and how that affects a water supplier’s ability to divert water under those extended permits.
· More detailed guidance for water suppliers on requesting access in the WMCP to permitted quantities of water beyond the specified “Development Limitations” established by a Final Order approving a Permit Extension of Time.
· A discussion of the difference between “increased or expanded” diversions of water under an extended permit with resource issues as compared to “increased or expanded” diversions of water under non‑extended permits, and the analysis of alternative water sources that must be performed in each circumstance.
· More direction about what to include in an updated WMCP if the previous WMCP approval was contingent upon completion of certain “Work Plan” activities. What happens if the “Work Plan” activities were not accomplished?
It is anticipated that any updates to the WMCP guidebook will, once again, be a cooperative effort. We are just in the beginning stages of the update, so any comments or suggestions you can provide will be helpful to the process.
For more information on updates to the WMCP guidebook, or for general water management and conservation planning in Oregon, please feel free to contact OWRD staff Lisa Jaramillo at 503-986-0880 or Bill Fujii at 503-986-0887. You can also visit OWRD’s Conservation Share-House web page, which includes a link to the current WMCP guidebook and the tabular water right inventory template, at: http://www.oregon.gov/owrd/Pages/Conservation_Sharehouse.aspx