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Conservation Corner
The Conservation Corner


Status of the Municipal WMCP Guidebook Update

Since the last status report in The Conservation Corner (April 2014), the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) has made significant progress in its endeavor to update the OAR Chapter 690, Division 86 Municipal Water Management and Conservation Plan guidebook.  A draft of the guidebook update is currently out for comment by a review team consisting of staff from League of Oregon Cities, Oregon Association of Water Utilities, and Special Districts Association of Oregon, as well as representatives from the municipal water supplier community, water right consulting firms, and engineers working in the water industry.  OWRD anticipates receiving feedback and comments from the review team by the end of July and plans to finalize the guidebook update by the end of 2014. 

Contact:  Lisa Jaramillo, (503)986-0880 or Lisa.J.Jaramillo@wrd.state.or.us.


Registrations of Reclaimed Municipal Water Use (Recycled Water)

Beginning in the mid-1970s, municipalities were faced with increased pressure to either stop discharging effluent into streams or to treat their effluent to produce a much higher quality of water that could be discharged. In response to these pressures, during the 1991 legislative session OWRD, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and municipal effluent dischargers joined together to support passage of legislation [codified in ORS 537.131, 537.132 and 540.610(2)(h)].  These laws allow municipal effluent to be reused (or recycled) for irrigation or for other beneficial uses without a water right, provided that the effluent is treated and discharged under either a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) or Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) permit issued by DEQ. In addition, the treated municipal effluent may be retained in a pond or lagoon without a reservoir permit [1].

Furthermore, under ORS 537.132, the legislation directs any person using or intending to use the treated municipal effluent to file a Registration of Reclaimed Municipal Water Use with OWRD. There is no fee associated with registering the use of reclaimed municipal water. The Registration of Reclaimed Municipal Water Use form may be accessed on OWRD’s website at: http://www.oregon.gov/owrd/pubs/docs/forms/reclaimform96.pdf.

It is important to note that if the land upon which the treated effluent is to be applied has an appurtenant water right, filing this registration provides documentation to show that the reclaimed water was used in lieu of using water under the existing water right; thereby rebutting a presumption of forfeiture for non-use and protecting the water right [2].

Since the passage of this legislation in 1991, several municipal water suppliers have developed reuse/recycled water programs to land apply treated municipal effluent. These programs help reduce discharges and improve water quality while providing a source of water and nutrients for various crops.


[1]  Depending on the size of the retention structure, OWRD approval of the engineering plans may be required.

[2] See ORS 540.610(1) and (2)(h): “…Whenever the owner of a perfected and developed water right ceases or fails to use all or part of the water appropriated for a period of five successive years, the failure to use shall establish a rebuttable presumption of forfeiture for all or part of the water right…Upon a showing of failure to use beneficially for five successive years, the appropriator has the burden of rebutting the presumption of forfeiture by showing…the nonuse occurred during a period of time within which the water right holder was using reclaimed water in lieu of using water under an existing water right.”

Contacts: DEQ –Recycled Water Program: (503)229-5472; OWRD – Reclaimed Municipal Water Use Registrations: Mellony Hoskinson, (503)986-0887 or Mellony.D.Hoskinson@wrd.state.or.us.