Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

John Day Basin

John Day Basin Overview

The John Day Basin is a semi-arid area of about 8,100 square miles in Northeastern Oregon. The Basin is characterized by diverse landforms which range from loess-covered plateaus in the northwest to glaciated alpine peaks in the southeast. Streamflow is derived primarily from melting snow, with most runoff occurring in April and May. Highest peak flows generally result from rain falling on snow in December and January. During late summer, streamflow is largely dependent upon groundwater discharge. The major tributaries of the John Day River are the North, Middle, and South Forks. Average annual discharge of the John Day River is nearly 1.5 million acre feet.

Back to Top

Integrated Water Resources Planning

Gilliam SWCD has convened a collaborative water planning process with diverse water interests who will work together to understand the water needs of the Lower John Day Sub-Basin and identify local solutions to meet those needs. The Lower John Day Sub-Basin is one of four places around the state undertaking place-based integrated water resources planning in Partnership with the Oregon Water Resources Department.  This planning process is supported by a $190,000 grant from the Oregon Water Resources Department. 

Guiding Documents
For More Information

​For more information (or to subscribe to the email list), please call Christina Kirwin, Gilliam SWCD Office Manager, at 541-384-2672 x108.

Any questions about the place-based planning program​, can be directed to the OWRD Planning Coordinator that supports this effort - Steve Parrett, 503-986-0914, Steve.W.Parrett@oregon.gov.
Back to Top

Basin Program Rules

Basin Program describes how water in the John Day Basin may be used. The Basin Program rules, along with the other rules and policies of the Water Resources Department govern how water is allocated and managed. The original rules were adopted in 1985. Modifications to the rules were adopted in 1987 and 1989. A summary of the original rules and updates are provided in the table below.

Year​​​​​​ ​​Summary of Modifications ​Link
​​​1989 ​Clarifies administration of minimum perennial streamflows. Link
​1987 ​Defines conditions for issuance of wa​ter right permits.
​1985 ​Classifies permitted water uses and prescribes minimum streamflows. Sets aside water for future economic development.
Back to Top

Studies, Reports, and Other Resources

Year​ ​Author(s) ​​​Title ​Link
1986​​ ​Oregon Water Resources Department ​John Day Basin Study Link
​1984 ​Oregon Water Resource​​​s Department ​Groundwater A​ssessment of the John Day Basin Link
1991​ ​Oregon Water Resources Department ​Stream Restoration Program for the Middle Fork Subbasin of the John Day River Link​
Back to Top

Regional Contact Information

For information about water in your region, contact your Watermaster or Region Manager: Regional Contacts​
Back to Top