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Oregon's Flow Restoration Toolbox
The Oregon Water Resources Department assists water right holders in finding voluntary solutions that meet the water right holder’s objectives and provide instream benefits. Oregonians have pioneered the use of various tools for restoring and protecting streamflows. Consequently, Oregon is known as a national and international leader in streamflow restoration and protection.




Instream Leasing
Oregon’s Instream Leasing program provides a voluntary means to aid the restoration and protection of streamflows. This program allows a water right holder to temporarily lease their water right for instream use. Water rights for surface water use, storage, the use of stored water, and water saved through the conserved water program may be leased instream.  Water rights may be leased instream for an initial period of up to five years, and may be renewed at the water right holder’s discretion. During the term of the lease, a water right holder forgoes the use of his or her water right. Leased water is protected instream by the Water Resources Department for the benefit of fish and other instream uses. This arrangement benefits the water right holder by putting the right to beneficial use, which is required to be exercised every five years. At the end of the lease term, the water right reverts back to its original place of use, as shown below.
 
Before Instream Lease

 
During Instream Lease

 
After Instream Lease

 
 
Leases go through an expedited review process, and are usually signed in 30 to 40 days after the application is received. Because of the expedited review of leases, if injury to another water right is found, the lease can be modified or terminated to prevent the injury. Oregon leads the country in instream leasing by restoring flow through over 1,000 instream leases since the program’s inception.  More on instream leasing activities.
 
Program overview and application form




Time-Limited Instream Transfer
As its name implies, a Time-Limited Instream Transfer is a transfer that allows a water right holder to change their water right to an instream use. The Time-Limited Instream Transfer program is similar to instream leasing in that the water right holder forgoes the use of the water right at the original place of use for a period of time, and the water is protected instream. Like instream leases, at the end of the term of the transfer, the water right reverts back to its original use. However, it differs from instream leases, in that it can be for any length of time, for example 10, 20, 50 or more years. It can also be customized so that when certain conditions occur, such as a change in ownership, the transfer can be terminated. Unlike instream leases, time-limited instream transfers cannot be unwound if injury or enlargement is found after they have been approved. Consequently, time-limited instream transfers, like all transfers, go through a more rigorous review than instream leases. 
 
Application form  (same as used for permanent transfers)




Permanent Instream Transfer
Unlike leases and time-limited transfers, as the name implies Permanent Instream Transfers provide for permanent flow restoration and results in the issuance of an instream water right which is held in trust by the Water Resources Department. More on instream transfer activities.
 
 
Before Permanent Instream Transfer

 
After Permanent Instream Transfer

 
Application form




Flow Augmentation Transfer
A Flow Augmentation Transfer is another way of restoring streamflows. Typically, flow augmentation rights continue to require active management, such as storing water in a reservoir, and then releasing it for instream benefits, or diverting water from one source, and then re-diverting it to another stream for instream benefits similar to an instream transfer. Unlike permanent instream transfers, flow augmentation rights may be held by an individual or an organization, instead of the Oregon Water Resources Department. 
 
Application form  (same as used for permanent transfers)




Split Season Instream Leasing
A special type of instream lease, Split Season Instream Leases allow the water right holders to use the water during part of the season, and then lease their water right instream during the other part of the season. This can be a good tool in cases where the water right holder does not want to fallow his or her land for the entire season. For example, if the right was applied to the land from April though June the landowner could get a cutting of hay, and then lease the right instream from July through September when streamflows are most critical for salmon.

 
During Split Season Instream Lease

April through June
 

July through September
 
 
After Split Season Instream Lease

 
Program overview and application form




Allocation of Conserved Water
This voluntary program provides an incentive to promote conservation, maximize the beneficial use of water and enhance streamflows.  Common conservation practices include lining canals, moving points of diversion downstream, and changing the water distribution system from flood irrigation to sprinkler or drip irrigation.  Under this program a water right holder who conserves water may use a portion of the conserved water on additional lands, while a portion of the conserved water is permanently protected instream. More on allocation of conserved water activities.
 
 
Before Conserved Water Project:
Flood irrigation used for water distribution

 
After Conserved Water Project:
Point of diversion is moved downstream and a pressurized sprinkler system is installed

 
Program overview and application form




Water Right Substitution and Exchanges
These tools involve the use of multiple water rights. In a Water Right Substitution, a water right holder substitutes a supplemental ground water right for a primary surface water right, changing the primary/supplemental status of each. This may result in less impact on the stream, and a more secure water right for the water right holder. In a Water Right Exchange the “place of use” of two water rights is swapped. In some circumstances this can result in increased flows in streams.
 
 
Before Substitution:
Primary right is from stream, and supplemental right is from ground water

 
After Substitution:
Primary right is from ground water, and supplemental right is from stream

 
Application form




Point of Diversion Change
A change in the point of diversion can also be a flow restoration tool. For example, if a water right holder moves their point of diversion downstream, water remains instream for a longer reach. In some circumstances a water right holder can move their point of diversion from a tributary stream to the main river, thereby resulting in the tributary stream receiving more water for its entire length. A point of diversion change can also be used to consolidate points of diversion which may result in fewer in-channel disturbances, and can provide more water to the driest stretches of a stream.
 
In the following examples, the water right holder has changed their point of diversion and has also changed from flood irrigation to a piped sprinkler system.
 
 
Example 1:
Downstream change in point of diversion on tributary stream

 

 
 
Example 2:
Change in point of diversion from tributary stream to main river

Old point of diversion
 

New point of diversion
 
 
Application form