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Use of Reclaimed Water
Municipal Water Re-use
Municipal effluent may be used for irrigation or for other beneficial uses without a water right. In addition, the effluent may be retained in a pond or lagoon without a reservoir permit. (Depending on the size of the retention structure, Department approval of the engineering plans may be required.) The effluent must be treated and discharged under either a national pollutant discharge system (NPDES) or water pollution control facilities (WPCF) permit. In addition, prior to using the effluent, the landowner must file a registration form with the WRD regional office for the area in which the use is to occur.

If the municipality had discharged the waste into a natural water course for five or more years and the discharge represented more than 50 percent of the average flow of the water course, then the Department must notify water right holders who may be affected by the cessation of the discharge of effluent. If a water right is affected, then the water right holder may be entitled to a preference to the use of the effluent.

Industrial and Confined Animal Feeding Operation Water Re-use
Ground water legally appropriated and used under a permit or certificate for industrial purposes or for confined animal feeding (CAFO) purposes may be reused for irrigation without an additional water right for the irrigation. The ground water may only be reused if the period of irrigation is a period during which the water to be reused has never been discharged to the waters of the state. Additionally, the effluent may be reused only if applied pursuant to a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality to construct and operate a disposal system or to operate a CAFO.

Program Implementation
Water Resources Department records contain water rights dating to the early 1960s authorizing the land application of treated municipal and industrial effluent. 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. Since the registration process was established in 1991, 50 reclaimed water registrations have been field with the Department. In no case has a water right holder claimed injury to a water right caused by changes in streamflows due to reduced discharge associated with reclaimed water use.

ORS 537.131, 537.132, 537.141 and 537.545 and ORS 540.510 and 540.610