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Upper McKenzie River – Western Cascades
- Photo by George Robison, ODFW-

The Water Quality and Quantity Program

The Water Quality/Quantity Program is involved with many water issues that can directly or indirectly affect fish and wildlife. Its areas of interest are divided into four primary categories:

  1. Water Allocation and Water Quality
  2. Hydro Power Program (regards hydro power licensing issues)
  3. Vector Control (Animal borne Diseases affecting fish, wildlife, or humans)

Water Allocation and Water Quality

Commenting on Water use activities

In many Oregon statutes and rules, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is directed to provide comments to Water Resources Department regarding water use applications, permit extensions, or transfers of use (See OAR 690-033 especially subsections 120-140,230,330 for new water applications; OAR 690-315 for extensions; and OAR 690- 380 for transfers). Because ODFW is the agency with fish and wildlife expertise, the Water Resources Department is often bound by these comments and sometimes will alter conditions regarding water use based on these comments to protect fish and wildlife. Water Quality and Quantity program staff assist field biologists with guidance and advice for making these comments and in some cases takes the lead in making these comments.

Guidance, information, and forms provided to field staff:

Instream Flow Issues

There are approximately 1500 instream water rights that have been applied for and established for fish and wildlife purposes by this program (Backgrounder on Instream Water Rights (pdf)). Most of these water rights used instream flow information from Basin Investigation Reports (pdf) conducted in the 1960’s and 1970’s using the Oregon Method ( Thompson, 1972 (pdf)). The goal set forth in rule is to have instream water rights on every stream that has significant fish and or aquatic resources (see OAR – 635-400-0005). Rules on using instream flow information to apply for an instream water right for ODFW are given in OAR 635-400.

Another important function is to review instream flow studies done for hydroelectric re-licensing and other purposes and attempting to archive data from these activities (See Guidelines for information desired from instream flow studies). Staff are involved with designing and sometimes implementing studies including recently completed studies in the John Day and Rogue basins and a current study on the Donner and Blitzen River and select tributaries in Eastern Oregon. In addition, streamflow restoration priorities have been developed on a basin by basin basis. Information and maps for the prioritization is available from ODFW and OWRD. Instream water rights are important because they affect water allocation of new water rights through water availability analysis and give fish and wildlife resources standing when other water rights are being transferred to other uses or points of diversion.

Water Quality Issues

As the states experts on fish and wildlife Fish and Wildlife staff are often called upon to advise water quality programs because the beneficial use being impaired by a lack of water quality are often fish and wildlife species. Our interests include but are not limited to providing advice on vector control (i.e. techniques used to prevent spread of disease that can have positive and negative effects on wildlife – see links below), the Portland Harbor cleanup, and providing advice to the Department of Environmental Quality on water quality standards and TMDLs and the Department of Agriculture regarding the Agricultural Water Quality Management Program.

Hydro Power Program  

Slide Creek Powerhouse – North Umpqua River
- Photo by Ken Homolka, ODFW-

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is a member of the state Hydroelectric Application Review Team and works closely with facilities operators, other agencies, and interest groups in re-licensing efforts. ODFW’s hydro power program consists of a statewide coordinator as well as regional hydropower coordinators as well as implementation staff. Currently the hydro program is participating in Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon (Snake River) project, PacifiCorp’s Klamath (Klamath Basin) project, Eugene Water and Electric Board's Carmen-Smith (McKenzie River) project and several proposed hydro retrofits of federal dams (Dorena, Applegate, Fall Creek, and Mason Dam). Additionally, hydro program staff participate in implementation of settlement agreements for projects such as Pelton–Round Butte (Deschutes Basin), Willamette Falls (Willamette Basin), North Umpqua (Umpqua Basin). ODFW has signed a settlement agreement with PacifiCorp to settle several issues on the Prospect (Rogue Basin) project. We are also working cooperatively with tribes and the utilities to implement settlement agreements for removal of Marmot Dam (Sandy River) and the Powerdale Dam (Hood River).

The hydro power program is currently involved in the review of seven preliminary permit applications or preliminary permits to develop wave energy projects off the Oregon coast. Proposed projects that are being evaluated by developers include; Lincoln County, Newport, Reedsport, Douglas County, Coos County (2), and Florence. ODFW is working closely with the Governor's Office, state and federal agencies, recreation and commercial interests and others through the Oregon Solutions process to develop a Declaration of Cooperation and Settlement Agreement in 2007 for the Reedsport OPT project proposal. In addition ODFW is reviewing a proposed tidal energy project in the Columbia River.

Vector Control Review

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s role in vector control is to review and approve the use of pesticides used by Vector Control Districts or Counties in order to protect fish, wildlife and their habitats. State statutes ORS 452.140 and ORS 452.245  direct Vector Control Districts and Counties to obtain ODFW approval before applying pesticides to control vectors. ODFW implements the statutes by annually reviewing and approving vector control plans with the goal to minimize effects on fish, wildlife and their habitats while not significantly interfering with disease prevention and containment. The approval process is based on a guidance document developed by ODFW (see Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Vector Control Guidance for Sensitive Areas).

The ODFW guidance contains recommendations to avoid direct impacts of pesticide applications on fish, wildlife or their habitats, as well as attempting to minimize indirect, chronic and long-term impacts.  The guidance focuses on:

  • Promoting natural mosquito predator diversity and healthy wetlands as an important part of an Integrated Pest Management plan.
  • Minimizing pesticide use absent a current health threat.
  • Using larval treatments that are more mosquito-specific before applying insecticides that may impact non-target species.
  • Minimizing use of adulticides.

ODFW’s approval only applies to defined and identified sensitive areas and species. ODFW has identified three categories of sensitive areas for the purposes of the guidance: 1) Wildlife Areas and Refuges, 2) Wetlands of Concern, and 3) Unique, Rare, or Vulnerable Habitats. These sensitive areas are identified on maps by County only for those counties with a vector control program (see Sensitive Area Maps).

Other Useful Links and Information Related to Vector Control:

For more information about the Vector Control Program, please contact Danette Faucera.

Reports and Publications

Modeling flow alternatives to balance fish, reservoir, and out-of-stream needs in the Crooked River below Prineville Reservoir (pdf)

Basin Investigations (pdfs)

  • 2. Willamette

For more information about the Water Quality and Quantity Program, please contact Section Manager Anna Pakenham Stevenson


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