Five facilitated Statewide Water Roundtables were held in Bend, Newport, Ontario, Medford, and Salem during September and October 2008; 301 people attended. Since attendees were self-selected, and some attended more than one Roundtable, they are not a representative cross-section of Oregonians.
The attendees responded to eight questions designed to identify their interests and the source of their water. They were also asked which of the following five factors – quantity, quality, economic, ecological, social - they valued most about Oregon and its water. In each region, the majority of the stakeholders are not optimistic about either current or future water supplies, either disagreeing or disagreeing strongly with these statements: 1) in 2008 Oregonians have enough water to cover their needs, including wildlife; 2) same question, but in Year 2028.
Attendees identified issues/opportunities/threats (issues) and outcomes/expectations/payoffs (outcomes), then prioritized the issues and identified potential solutions, actions to be taken in the short term and long term, existing examples, and groups responsible for action or implementation. Many issues were the same from Roundtable to Roundtable but certain ones were more evident in particular locations, e.g., water rights and protection of existing water rights (Ontario, Bend); and invasive species (Newport).
The participants were knowledgeable about their water supply; only three of 301 attendees could not identify the source of their water. The solutions offered by participants reflected this high degree of knowledge.
Over 200 issues were identified at the five Roundtables. The Roundtables were designed to encourage brainstorming so characterizing the issues cannot be done scientifically. Representative issues included:
• Funding for water and wastewater infrastructure and management
• Integrated long range planning and management at the basin level within a statewide framework
• Protection of existing water rights and uses
• Water quality, especially non-point pollution, micro-contaminants and the impact of urbanization
• Water-land use planning integration
• Climate change impacts
• Wetland, floodplain and instream flow restoration
• Interstate water allocation/management for surface and groundwater
Key messages heard at all sessions were that:
• One size does not fit all; regions vary greatly and regional differences need to be recognized
• Public information and education about water use and management is needed
• Need for integrated water management and implementation
• Maximize available funds through agency coordination and streamlining of funding sources
• Water conservation tax credits, like energy tax credits
• Water reuse and recycling
• Water markets, pricing and incentives
• Water storage and conservation
• Measuring water flows and uses systematically
• Local integrated water planning
• Interstate compact(s)