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Developing an Agricultural Water Efficiency Strategy to Help Meet Oregon’s Water Needs

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  • In 2010 Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) embarked on a research effort to develop strategic, practical recommendations for advancing agricultural water efficiency in Oregon. While OEC’s report on this project will not be published until July 2011, we will share some of our initial findings at the Oregon Water Conference. As climate change and population growth place increasing pressure on Oregon’s already strained water resources, improved agricultural water conservation and efficiency will need to be a critical component of the solution, for the benefit of farmers and fish. Agricultural irrigation makes up at least 80% of Oregon's water withdrawals and about half of all cropland in Oregon is irrigated. While many people agree that conservation is a laudable goal, and many growers and irrigation districts have made significant progress in improving the efficiency of irrigation and water delivery systems, there has been little consensus about what the state could do to strategically expand more efficient practices. OEC has been reaching out to agricultural stakeholders and irrigation experts to solicit their ideas and investigate existing barriers, with the aim of developing practical solutions that will benefit growers and the environment. Recommendations may include policy changes, incentives, educational programs and pilot projects. These recommendations will inform our participation in the state’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy Policy Advisory Group.
  • Presented at The Oregon Water Conference, May 24-25, 2011, Corvallis, OR.
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