Senator Jeff Merkley, the top Democrat on the Senate’s Agriculture Appropriations Committee, has been working hard to secure funding for Central Oregon. A bill that includes a $25 million increase for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations was just unanimously passed by the committee. This funding, when signed into law, will support large water conservation projects within Deschutes Basin irrigation districts that will conserve water and improve the habitats of endangered species while supporting agricultural livelihoods in the Deschutes Basin.
Additionally, the Senate’s Energy & Water Development Subcommittee passed an increase of $26 million to the WaterSmart program, raising the program’s funds to $60 million. WaterSmart funds projects to help irrigation districts conserve water and improve streamflows, benefiting habitats for endangered and native species.
These funding sources support the collaborative work that is underway within Central Oregon to conserve water, improve habitat for native fish, ESA-listed steelhead and Oregon spotted frog, and keep Central Oregon family farms in business. The DRC applauds the efforts of Senator Merkeley in advocating for these appropriations and looks forward to continuing to partner with the irrigation districts on these projects.
We look forward to Senator Merkley’s continued support as well as the support of our other state and local elected officials.