|Upper McKenzie River – Western Cascades
- Photo by George Robison, ODFW-
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:
- Water Allocation and Water Quality
- Hydro Power Program (regards hydro power licensing issues)
- Natural Resources Information Management
- 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
To protect fish and wildlife, ODFW must approve pesticide use plans prior to applications for vector control. (ORS 452.140; ORS 452.245) “Vectors” are any non-domestic animal that transmits disease to humans. Common vectors are mosquitoes, rats and mice, among others. ODFW’s review and approval of pesticide use plans is critical because mosquito control pesticides may be applied to or near natural areas, wetlands, and waterways where fish and wildlife occur.
Vector control for disease prevention and containment is a vital function for human health. ODFW’s goal in review and approval of vector control plans is to minimize effects on fish, wildlife and their habitats while not interfering with disease prevention and containment. In our approvals, ODFW focuses on protecting sensitive areas and species and will advise vector control districts of measures to prevent any potential impacts to fish and wildlife and their habitats.
The mosquito-transmitted disease, West Nile virus, is now established in the United States. Vector control districts and their plans have become the focus for controlling this disease. The public can assist in reducing mosquito numbers and exposure to mosquitoes in their local area by:
- Reducing Mosquito Breeding Habitat: This isn’t changing natural habitats, but instead eliminating standing water breeding areas around houses and on your property, including: reduce standing water in irrigated areas, eliminating water-filled containers, such as buckets and old tires, cleaning roof gutters, and ensuring water troughs and bird baths are managed to eliminate mosquito breeding (changing water every 4 days or adding mosquito fish or BT dunks).
- Mosquito avoidance: People can reduce their exposure to biting mosquitoes by restricting outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active (dawn and dusk), wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, and using effective repellent.
Links and information for Vector Control:
For more information about the program, please Contact Section Manager Rick Kepler.