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Water Distribution and Enforcement
watermasters and field staff protecting rights and resources
In order to protect the rights of water users, and to ensure that water laws are obeyed, personnel from the Water Resources Department, in cooperation with land owners, inspect wells and water diversion systems. Inspections are usually conducted by watermasters and well inspectors who are employees of the Department.
Watermasters respond to complaints from water users and determine in times of water shortage, which generally occur every year, who has the right to use water. Each summer as streamflows drop, they regulate junior users to provide water to more senior users. On some streams, by the end of summer, there is only enough water to supply users with rights established in the 1800s. All of the more recently established rights will have been regulated off by the watermaster. Watermasters work with all of the water users on a given water system to ensure that the users voluntarily comply with the needs of more senior users. Occasionally, watermasters take more formal actions to obtain the compliance of unlawful water users or those who are engaged in practices that “waste” water. The waste of water means the continued diversion of more water than is needed to satisfy the specific beneficial use for which the right was granted.
Watermasters and field staff also provide general information to the public, oversee enforcement of instream water rights, inspect wells and dams for safety violations, and measure and monitor streamflows for management and planning needs.
Commission and Department
1. Oregon Water Laws
water management in Oregon
2. Protections and Restrictions
managing water appropriations
3. New Water Rights
gaining authorization to use water
4. Other Water Rights
authorization for water use
5. Transferring Rights
existing rights for new users
6. Canceling Rights
loss of water rights through non-use
7. Conservation
encouraging efficient water use
8. Finding Water Rights
determining if you have a water right
9. Enforcing Water Laws
watermasters and field staff protecting rights and resources
10. Region Managers and Offices
11. Fees
Appendix A
other development permits
Water Measurement Conversions