WASHINGTON - Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, D-Ore, testified Wednesday before the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in favor of the Crooked River Collaborative Water Security Act, which they are the lead sponsors.
The hearing was the first step since the bill was introduced to the Senate in early August.
"Today's hearing is a substantial step to getting this important bill passed for Prineville and the regional economy," said Merkley. "I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Wyden and Congressman Walden so that the region can secure essential water for irrigation, economic development, recreation, and a healthy stream."
"I think all of us, particularly in the West, understand that water is a prerequisite for quality of life in our part of the country," Wyden said at the hearing. "This bill strikes a balance between competing demands for scarce resources.
"I'm particularly pleased that the city of Prineville is going to have water for economic development, irrigators will have a new level of certainty on their future water supply … [while it also] opens up fish habitat."
The senators said the Crooked River Collaborative Water Security Act would provide numerous benefits to water users and the Central Oregon region, by:
• Providing the City of Prineville with a dependable supply of water to support growth into the foreseeable future;
• Ensuring a reliable supply of water to farmers who use water from Prineville Reservoir and McKay Creek for irrigation;
• Enhancing the ability to manage water flows in the Crooked River to improve habitat for the benefit of fish, and improving fish habitat in McKay Creek;
• Providing the ability to install a hydroelectric turbine on Bowman Dam.
This legislation is endorsed by the City of Prineville, Crook County, the Governor of Oregon, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, American Rivers, Deschutes Basin Board of Control (Representing all 7 major irrigation districts in Central Oregon), Ochoco Irrigation District, Portland General Electric, Trout Unlimited, and WaterWatch.