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Flow Restoration in Oregon
Instream Water Right Act
Since the Instream Water Right Act was adopted in 1987, the State of Oregon has worked on a voluntary basis with water right users, landowners, watershed councils, soil and water conservation districts, irrigation districts, and other organizations to restore streamflows for fish and wildlife, recreation, and pollution abatement.
2008-09 Issue Brief:  Instream Accomplishments
July 20, 2007 marked the 20th Anniversary of Oregon's Instream Water Right Act.  Since the Instream Water Right Act was adopted in 1987, the Department has converted more than 500 of the state's minimum perennial stream flows to instream water rights, and has issued more than 900 state agency-applied instream water rights.
Oregon leads the country in flow restroration as well, with more than 1,100 individual instream leases, instream transfers, and allocations of conserved water that restore about 900 cubic feet per second (cfs) of streamflowfor fish and wildlife, recreation, and pollution abatement.
Key Accomplishments
  • More than 70 percent of water put instream on a permanent basis is "senior" water, with certificates pre-dating Oregon's 1909 water law.
  • Oregon has restored nearly double the amount of instream flow of Washington, Idaho, and Montana combined.  Oregon has placed about 900 cfs instream, compared to Washington (400 cfs). Idaho (100 cfs), and Montana (14 cfs based on a 2006 survey).
Program Highlights
  • There are three ways to put water instream, through (1) instream leases and time-limited transfers, (2) permanent instream transfers, and (3) allocation of conserved water.
  • By 2009, the Department had approved more than 43 applications for allocation of conserved water, resulting in almost 80 cfs permanently protected instream.
  • By 2009, the Department had completed 57 permanent instream transfers, representing more than 280 cfs.
  • During 2009, 52% of instream leases came directly from customer transactions with the Water Resources Department.
  • The instream leasing program also depends on active partnerships with the Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust (30% of flow during 2008), Deschutes River Conservancy (30%), and the Oregon Water Trust (8%).
  • The Department actively protects instream water rights.  In 2008, more than 50 percent of streams regulated in Oregon were regulated to protect instream water rights.
  • In 2007, with a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the Department has made its flow restoration database available on-line, in a searchable, publicly accessible system.
(Last updated August 2009)

More Information
History of Flow Restoration in Oregon
A brief summary of key milestones  since the Instream Act was adopted.
Flow Restoration Tools
An explanation and description of the various restoration tools.
For work in the Deschutes basin in conjuction with Central Oregon Irrigation District you can use the  COID Calculator
Forms and information for Instream Tranfsers  
Forms and information for Allocations of Conserved Water 
Forms and information for Instream Leases 
For additional information on flow restoration in Oregon, contact  Laura Wilke.