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Deschutes Groundwater Mitigation Program

The Deschutes Groundwater Mitigation Program was developed to provide for new ground water uses while maintaining scenic waterway and instream water right flows in the Deschutes Basin.  Surface water flows in the Deschutes River and many of its tributaries are protected with scenic waterway designations and/or instream water rights.  In addition, there are hundreds of existing surface water diversions for various uses, including irrigation and municipal use.  In the 1990’s, a groundwater study completed by U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD) and other Deschutes Basin partners, found that there is a hydraulic connection between groundwater and surface water within the Deschutes Groundwater Study Area (DGWSA). As a result of this connection, additional groundwater uses within the DGWSA impact established instream flows and other existing surface water rights.  Without mitigation, WRD would not be able to approve new groundwater uses that require permits within the DGWSA.

The goals of the Deschutes Groundwater 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 groundwater development.