Improving water quality throughout Oregon not only helps protect
drinking water, fish habitat and the environment in general, but can
also boost Oregon’s economy. A clean and more dependable water
supply is good for industry, promotes healthier commercial and
recreational fisheries, and encourages tourism. Clean waterways also
help ensure that Oregonians of all ages have safe places to swim and
DEQ coordinates its work to protect and improve Oregon’s water by
following the watershed approach.
What is a watershed?
DEQ uses the term “watershed” to describe an area of land that
contains related waterways. These watersheds may be traditional
basins, areas that drain into a single waterway or an area that
contains similar waterways, such as a group of coastal rivers.
What is the "watershed approach"?
The watershed approach is a way to work cooperatively to deal with
the many factors that influence water quality in a single watershed.
This geographic focus helps DEQ coordinate internally and with
stakeholders to effectively identify and address the most pressing
needs of each watershed.
Specifically, that means:
- Combining the expertise of DEQ’s 17 water quality
subprograms to ensure that DEQ’s resources and scientific
information are put to use effectively.
- Consulting with local, state and federal agencies, as well as local
interest groups and watershed councils, to help DEQ identify
problems and solutions. The watershed approach allows opportunities
for direct, interactive feedback between DEQ and its many
The watershed approach follows the principle of adaptive management,
which uses the best information available to take action on
immediate problems. It also involves taking any new information to
improve practices over time. This “continuous improvement” process
allows DEQ to:
- Share its findings with affected stakeholders and residents,
so all parties learn how to better manage our watersheds.
- Prioritize immediate and long-term actions that can be
taken in a particular basin or watershed, through DEQ’s Water
Quality Status and Acton Plan documents. These actions will
emphasize working closer with all affected parties to identify
goals and measure success.
- Encourage all involved to
be flexible and open to new ways of solving problems (including
voluntary collaboration where possible) and avoiding duplication
- Regularly assess the situation in each
basin, to determine in an outcome-based approach what’s working
and what’s not.