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Deschutes Basin Mitigation Program
Background information
The Deschutes Ground Water Mitigation Program was developed to provide for new ground water uses while maintaining scenic waterway and instream water right flows in the Deschutes Basin. The program is authorized under ORS 537.746 and House Bill 3494 (2005 Oregon Law) and implemented in Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) Chapter 690, Divisions 505 and 521.

The goals of the Deschutes Mitigation Program are to:

  • Maintain flows for Scenic Waterways and senior water rights, including instream water rights;
  • Facilitate restoration of flows in the middle reach of the Deschutes River and related tributaries; and
  • Sustain existing water uses and accommodate growth through new ground water development.

Five Year Evaluation
Every five years the Water Resources Commission (WRC) is required to evaluate the effectiveness of the mitigation program.  The purpose of this evaluation is to ensure that scenic waterway and instream water right flows continue to be met on at least an equivalent or more frequent basis compared to flows within a representative base period. 
The first five year evaluation of the Deschutes Mitigation Program has been completed.

How to get more information:

Deschutes Work Group
In 2008, the Department began evaluation of the program as required by HB 3494. By January 31, 2009, the Department is required to report to the Legislature on the implementation and operation of the Deschutes Ground Water Mitigation and Mitigation Bank programs. The report is to include:
  • The cumulative rate of water appropriated under all ground water permits approved in the Deschutes River Basin after the effective date HB 3494.
  • The volume of water, in acre-feet, provided for mitigation; and
  • The measured stream flow of the Deschutes and it major tributaries.
HB 3494 also identifies that this report may include information on the progress on restoring stream flows in the Deschutes River Basin to a point sufficient to support anadromous fish and on any statutory changes necessary to accomplish the needed stream flow restoration. HB 3494 directs the Department to consult with Deschutes River Basin water users and organizations.  The Department is to work with basin water users and organizations to seek funding for a facilitated process to develop this report and to evaluate the ground water mitigation and mitigation bank programs.
To implement this effort, the Department has formed a Deschutes Work Group composed of a variety of stakeholders and local water users representing various interests. This group is meeting during 2008 to provide input on areas where the program is working and to help identify areas for improvement.
Work Group Materials 

HB 3494 Reports