|Abstract or Summary
- The elected County Commissioner-led Benton-Lane-Linn Water Resources Study Group evolved in early 2009 to help counties, their partners, and area residents understand, pursue projects and offer recommendations to governing bodies concerning the region’s water quality and quantity. The Study Group is building on 2009-2010 successes including community engagement to support goals of the Oregon Integrated Water Resources Strategy. Participants of the Benton-Lane-Linn Water Resources Study Group will be working as part of the multi-year Oregon State University “Willamette Water 2100” NSF grant project. The five-year OSU led project is unique in the level of integration among several leading water resources academics from science, engineering, and socioeconomic disciplines.
Elected officials in the Willamette Basin often have to make short term wagers on water issues, against the backdrop of long term uncertainties over the quantity of and quality of water in the face changing land uses, population growth and climate change. The year-round water flow of the Willamette River and heavy winter rains make the impacts from a changing climate seem small in comparison to immediate economic and environmental issues. Meanwhile, scientists across the water resources disciplines are struggling to inform State and Local government and the citizens they serve, regarding the effects that a changing climate will likely have on water resources. Modeling of water supply and quality provides a means to bridge the climate change knowledge gap and risks under different scenarios. The Benton-Lane-Linn County Water Resources Study Group is starting a pilot project that brings Oregon State University scientists, elected officials and water-use decision makers into a “knowledge-to-action network” partnership, to develop tools and project the potential consequences of climate change.
Participating Study Group members in this knowledge to action network will have the ability to create a process and forum aided by science to weigh policy scenarios as the region faces tradeoffs involving water resources. The result is a pilot project where the latest science-based models are formed with policy choices that help inform improvements to local and regional policies for alleviating potential water scarcity.